MedGenome Labs Ltd. – Publications | MedGenome | MedGenome - Part 4


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: December 9, 2019

Women with persistent human papillomavirus (HPV) infections have a high risk of developing cervical cancer (CaCx). HPV-16 alone accounts for more than 60% of CaCx worldwide. Most of the HPV infections are transient and only a subset of women develop persistent HPV-16 infection. Many studies have shown associations of different human leukocyte antigen (HLA) alleles with HPV-mediated CaCx, but there are only a few studies globally that relate to persistent HPV-16 infection. Furthermore, such studies from India are sparse. Hence, we investigated the association of HLA-A, B, DRB, and DQB alleles with persistent HPV-16 infection and HPV-16-positive CaCx in south India (Tamil Nadu). HPV-16 persistent infection was observed in 7% of normal women. A total of 50 women with HPV-16-positive CaCx, 21 women with HPV-16 persistent infection, and 74 HPV-16-negative normal women were recruited for this study. Low-resolution typing of HLA-A, B, DRB, and DQB alleles was performed. HLA-B*44 and DRB1*07 showed a significant association with persistent HPV-16 infection (odds ratio, p-value = 26.3, 0.03 and 4.7, 0.01, respectively). HLA-B*27 and DRB1*12 were significantly associated with both HPV-16+ CaCx and persistent HPV-16 infection (23.8, 0.03; 52.9, 0.01; 9.8, 0.0009; and 13.8, 0.009; respectively). HLA-B*15 showed a negative association with HPV-16-positive CaCx (0.1, 0.01), whereas DRB1*04 exhibited protection to both HPV-16-positive CaCx and persistent HPV-16 infection (0.3, 0.0001 and 0.1, 0.0002, respectively). Thus, we show HLA allelic association with HPV-16 infection in Tamil Nadu. Larger studies on high-resolution HLA typing coupled with HPV-16 genome diversity will offer further insights into host/pathogen genome coevolution.

Date: December 5, 2019

Recent work has demonstrated that two archaic human groups (Neanderthals and Denisovans) interbred with modern humans and contributed to the contemporary human gene pool. These findings relied on the availability of high-coverage genomes from both Neanderthals and Denisovans. Here we search for evidence of archaic admixture from a worldwide panel of 1,667 individuals using an approach that does not require the presence of an archaic human reference genome. We find no evidence for archaic admixture in the Andaman Islands, as previously claimed, or on the island of Flores, where Homo floresiensis fossils have been found. However, we do find evidence for at least one archaic admixture event in sub-Saharan Africa, with the strongest signal in Khoesan and Pygmy individuals from Southern and Central Africa. The locations of these putative archaic admixture tracts are weighted against functional regions of the genome, consistent with the long-term effects of purifying selection against introgressed genetic material.

Date: December 4, 2019

The underrepresentation of non-Europeans in human genetic studies so far has limited the diversity of individuals in genomic datasets and led to reduced medical relevance for a large proportion of the world’s population. Population-specific reference genome datasets as well as genome-wide association studies in diverse populations are needed to address this issue. Here we describe the pilot phase of the GenomeAsia 100K Project. This includes a whole-genome sequencing reference dataset from 1,739 individuals of 219 population groups and 64 countries across Asia. We catalogue genetic variation, population structure, disease associations and founder effects. We also explore the use of this dataset in imputation, to facilitate genetic studies in populations across Asia and worldwide.

Date: October 22, 2019

Limited repertoires of targets are available in the management of squamous cell carcinoma lung. In this study, we analyzed epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), RAS, BRAF mutations in lung cancer patients of squamous cell histology using next-generation sequencing (NGS) on the circulating cell-free DNA (cf-DNA). Materials and Methods: In this prospective observational study, patients with squamous cell carcinoma lung, either newly diagnosed or having a progressive disease on prior therapy were eligible. Cf-DNA was extracted from peripheral blood and analyzed for EGFR, KRAS, NRAS, and BRAF mutations using NGS. Results: Sixteen patients were enrolled over a period of 1 month. The mean cf-DNA quantity extracted from the plasma was 96.5 ng (range, 15–200 ng). Eight clinically relevant mutations in the EGFR pathway were identified. These include Exon 21 mutations in 4 patients, Exon 20 mutation in onepatient, complex mutations with coexisting Exon 21 and Exon18 in one patient and KRAS Exon 2 mutations in two patients. Conclusion: cf-DNA is a minimally invasive technique for detection of clinically relevant mutations in lung cancer patients. The use of novel advanced techniques such as NGS may help in detecting EGFR pathway mutations in patients with squamous cell carcinoma lung.

Date: October 11, 2019

This study investigated the potential of vitamin K1 as a novel lens aldose reductase inhibitor in a streptozotocin-induced diabetic cataract model. A single, intraperitoneal injection of streptozotocin (STZ) (35 mg/kg) resulted in hyperglycemia, activation of lens aldose reductase 2 (ALR2) and accumulation of sorbitol in eye lens which could have contributed to diabetic cataract formation. However, when diabetic rats were treated with vitamin K1 (5 mg/kg, sc, twice a week) it resulted in lowering of blood glucose and inhibition of lens aldose reductase activity because of which there was a corresponding decrease in lens sorbitol accumulation. These results suggest that vitamin K1 is a potent inhibitor of lens aldose reductase enzyme and we made an attempt to understand the nature of this inhibition using crude lens homogenate as well as recombinant human aldose reductase enzyme. Our results from protein docking and spectrofluorimetric analyses clearly show that vitamin K1 is a potent inhibitor of ALR2 and this inhibition is primarily mediated by the blockage of DL-glyceraldehyde binding to ALR2. At the same time docking also suggests that vitamin K1 overlaps at the NADPH binding site of ALR2, which probably shows that vitamin K1 could possibly bind both these sites in the enzyme. Another deduction that we can derive from the experiments performed with pure protein is that ALR2 has three levels of affinity, first for NADPH, second for vitamin K1 and third for the substrate DL-glyceraldehyde. This was evident based on the dose-dependency experiments performed with both NADPH and DL-glyceraldehyde. Overall, our study shows the potential of vitamin K1 as an ALR2 inhibitor which primarily blocks enzyme activity by inhibiting substrate interaction of the enzyme. Further structural studies are needed to fully comprehend the exact nature of binding and inhibition of ALR2 by vitamin K1 that could open up possibilities of its therapeutic application.

Date: September 1, 2019

Proper vascular function is important for well-being of mother and growing fetus. VEGFTOTAL, and VEGF165b levels and its vascular endothelial complications in gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) together with the association of inflammation and advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are less studied. VEGF165b/VEGFTOTAL (VEGF RATIO) in GDM pregnant women was investigated in this study. Plasma VEGFTOTAL was lower in GDM (17.68 ± 1.30 pg/mL) compared to non-GDM (25.69 ± 1.40 pg/mL). VEGF165b, ICAM-1, and AGEs were higher in GDM (9.9 ± 1.4 pg/mL, 201.04 ± 7.85 µg/mL, and 10.40 ± 0.98 µg/mL, respectively) and lower in non-GDM (6.47 ± 0.70 pg/mL, 174.1 ± 7.11 µg/mL, and 4.71 ± 0.39 µg/mL, respectively). Compared to non GDM (0.25 ± 0.02), VEGF RATIO was higher in GDM (0.45 ± 0.04) and correlated with -ICAM-1 (r = 0.375, p < .001) and AGEs (r = 0.199, p < .05). Tertile stratification of VEGF RATIO implied that frequency of GDM increases with increasing tertiles of VEGF RATIO (p for trend <.001). Association of VEGF RATIO with GDM was significant even after adjusting for AGEs (OR = 1.279, CI = 1.118-1.462, p < .0010) but it lost its significance when adjusted for ICAM-1 (OR = 1.006, CI = 0.995-1.017, p = .308). VEGF RATIO plays an important role in GDM in association with vascular inflammation.

Date: August 21, 2019

Tobacco in its smoke and smokeless form are major risk factors for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). However, molecular alterations associated with smokeless tobacco exposure are poorly understood. In the Indian subcontinent, tobacco is predominantly consumed in chewing form. An understanding of molecular alterations associated with chewing tobacco exposure is vital for identifying molecular markers and potential targets. We developed an in vitro cellular model by exposing non-transformed esophageal epithelial cells to chewing tobacco over an eight-month period. Chronic exposure to chewing tobacco led to increase in cell proliferation, invasive ability and anchorage independent growth, indicating cell transformation. Molecular alterations associated with chewing tobacco exposure were characterized by carrying out exome sequencing and quantitative proteomic profiling of parental cells and chewing tobacco exposed cells. Quantitative proteomic analysis revealed increased expression of cancer stem cell markers in tobacco treated cells. In addition, tobacco exposed cells showed the Oxidative Phosphorylation (OXPHOS) phenotype with decreased expression of enzymes associated with glycolytic pathway and increased expression of a large number of mitochondrial proteins involved in electron transport chain as well as enzymes of the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle. Electron micrographs revealed increase in number and size of mitochondria. Based on these observations, we propose that chronic exposure of esophageal epithelial cells to tobacco leads to cancer stem cell-like phenotype. These cells show the characteristic OXPHOS phenotype, which can be potentially targeted as a therapeutic strategy.

Date: August 1, 2019

Aim: The CYP2D6 gene is highly polymorphic and harbors population specific alleles that define its predominant metabolizer phenotype. This study aimed to identify polymorphisms in Indian population owing to scarcity of CYP2D6 data in this population. Materials & methods: The CYP2D6 gene was resequenced in 105 south Indians using next generation sequencing technology and haplotypes were reconstructed. Results & conclusion: Four novel missense variants have been designated as CYP2D6*110, *111, *112 and *113. The most common alleles were CYP2D6*1 (42%), *2 (32%), and *41 (12.3%) and diplotypes were CYP2D6*1/*2 (26%), *1/*1 (11%), *2/*41 (10%) and *1/*41 (7%) accounting for high incidence of extensive metabolizers in Indians.

Date: July 28, 2019

Wild pedigrees are critical for better understanding mating systems and inbreeding scenarios to inform conservation strategies for endangered species. To delineate pedigrees in wild populations, many identified individuals will have to be genotyped at thousands of loci, mostly from non-invasive samples. This requires us to quantify (a) the most common non-invasive sample available from identified individuals (b) the ability to acquire genome-wide data from such samples, and (c) the quality of such genome-wide data, and its ability to reconstruct relationships between animals within a population. We followed identified individuals from a wild endangered tiger population, and found that shed hair samples were most common compared to fecal samples, carcasses and opportunistic invasive samples. DNA extraction, library preparation and whole genome sequencing resulted in between 126,129 and 512,689 SNPs from across the genome for four such samples. Exploratory population genetic analyses revealed that these data were free of holistic biases, and could recover expected population structure and relatedness. Mitochondrial genomes recovered matrilineages as suggested by long-term monitoring data. Even with these few samples, we were able to uncover the matrilineage for an individual with unknown ancestry. In summary, we demonstrated that non-invasive shed hair samples yielded adequate quality/quantity DNA AND in conjunction with sensitive library preparation methods, provided reliable data from hundreds of thousands of SNPs across the genome. This makes shed hair are an effective resource for studying individual-based genetics of elusive endangered species.

Date: June 1, 2019

We describe an 11-month-old boy who presented with recurrent respiratory infections from 6 months of age. His elder sister died at 10 months with severe septicemia and meningitis. The boy had a mild motor delay. Investigations revealed T cell deficiency and very low serum uric acid suggestive of purine nucleoside phosphorylase (PNP) deficiency – a rare variant of severe combined immunodeficiency disease. A novel homozygous missense mutation of c.597C>G(p. S199R) of exon 5 on PNP gene confirmed the diagnosis. We suggest that uric acid should be a part of investigation profile for unidentified motor delay, as recurrent infections can be late presentation.

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