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Nat Genet

Peutz-Jeghers syndrome is caused by mutations in a novel serine threonine kinase.

Jenne DE. Reimann H. Nezu J. Friedel W. Loff S. Jeschke R. Muller O. Back W. Zimmer M.
Department of Neuroimmunology, Max-Planck-Institute of Psychiatry, Martinsried, Germany. djenne@alf.biochem.mpg.de
Peutz-Jeghers (PJ) syndrome is an autosomal-dominant disorder characterized by melanocytic macules of the lips, multiple gastrointestinal hamartomatous polyps and an increased risk for various neoplasms, including gastrointestinal cancer. The PJ gene was recently mapped to chromosome 19p13.3 by linkage analysis, with the highest lod score at marker D19S886. In a distance of 190 kb proximal to D19S886, we identified and characterized a novel human gene encoding the serine threonine kinase STK11. In a three-generation PJ family, we found an STK11 allele with a deletion of exons 4 and 5 and an inversion of exons 6 and 7 segregating with the disease. Sequence analysis of STK11 exons in four unrelated PJ patients has identified three nonsense and one acceptor splice site mutations. All five germline mutations are predicted to disrupt the function of the kinase domain. We conclude that germline mutations in STK11, probably in conjunction with acquired genetic defects of the second allele in somatic cells, cause the manifestations of PJ syndrome.

Telomerase activation by hTRT in human normal fibroblasts and hepatocellular carcinomas.

Nakayama J. Tahara H. Tahara E. Saito M. Ito K. Nakamura H. Nakanishi T. Tahara E. Ide T. Ishikawa F.
Department of Life Science, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Yokohama, Japan.
Telomerase is a specialized type of reverse transcriptase which catalyzes the synthesis and extension of telomeric DNA (for review, see ref.1). This enzyme is highly active in most cancer cells, but is inactive in most somatic cells. This striking observation led to the suggestion that telomerase might be important for the continued growth or progression of cancer cells. However, little is known about the molecular mechanism of telomerase activation in cancer cells. Human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTRT) has recently been identified as a putative human telomerase catalytic subunit. We transfected the gene encoding hTRT into telomerase-negative human normal fibroblast cells and demonstrated that expression of wild-type hTRT induces telomerase activity, whereas hTRT mutants containing mutations in regions conserved among other reverse transcriptases did not. Hepatocellular carcinoma (20 samples) and non-cancerous liver tissues (19 samples) were examined for telomerase activity and expression of hTRT, the human telomerase RNA component (hTR; encoded by TERC) and the human telomerase-associated protein (hTLP1; encoded by TEP1). A significant correlation between hTRT expression and telomerase activity was observed. These results indicate that the hTRT protein is the catalytic subunit of human telomerase, and that it plays a key role in the activation of telomerase in cancer cells.

SOX10 mutations in patients with Waardenburg-Hirschsprung disease.

Pingault V. Bondurand N. Kuhlbrodt K. Goerich DE. Prehu MO. Puliti A. Herbarth B. Hermans-Borgmeyer I. Legius E. Matthijs G. Amiel J. Lyonnet S. Ceccherini I. Romeo G. Smith JC. Read AP. Wegner M. Goossens M.
INSERM U468, Hopital Henri Mondor, Creteil, France.
Waardenburg syndrome (WS; deafness with pigmentary abnormalities) and Hirschsprung's disease (HSCR; aganglionic megacolon) are congenital disorders caused by defective function of the embryonic neural crest. WS and HSCR are associated in patients with Waardenburg-Shah syndrome (WS4), whose symptoms are reminiscent of the white coat-spotting and aganglionic megacolon displayed by the mouse mutants Dom (Dominant megacolon), piebald-lethal (sl) and lethal spotting (ls). The sl and ls phenotypes are caused by mutations in the genes encoding the Endothelin-B receptor (Ednrb) and Endothelin 3 (Edn3), respectively. The identification of Sox10 as the gene mutated in Dom mice (B.H. et al., manuscript submitted) prompted us to analyse the role of its human homologue SOX10 in neural crest defects. Here we show that patients from four families with WS4 have mutations in SOX10, whereas no mutation could be detected in patients with HSCR alone. These mutations are likely to result in haploinsufficiency of the SOX10 product. Our findings further define the locus heterogeneity of Waardenburg-Hirschsprung syndromes, and point to an essential role of SOX10 in the development of two neural crest-derived human cell lineages.

GLUT-1 deficiency syndrome caused by haploinsufficiency of the blood-brain barrier hexose carrier.

Seidner G. Alvarez MG. Yeh JI. O'Driscoll KR. Klepper J. Stump TS. Wang D. Spinner NB. Birnbaum MJ. De Vivo DC.
Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Cox Institute, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.
The high metabolic requirements of the mammalian central nervous system require specialized structures for the facilitated transport of nutrients across the blood-brain barrier. Stereospecific high-capacity carriers, including those that recognize glucose, are key components of this barrier, which also protects the brain against noxious substances. Facilitated glucose transport in vertebrates is catalyzed by a family of carriers consisting of at least five functional isoforms with distinct tissue distributions, subcellular localizations and transport kinetics. Several of these transporters are expressed in the mammalian brain. GLUT-1, whose sequence was originally deduced from cDNAs cloned from human hepatoma and rat brain, is present at high levels in primate erythrocytes and brain endothelial cells. GLUT1 has been cloned and positionally mapped to the short arm of chromosome 1 (1p35-p31.3; refs 6-8). Despite substantial metabolic requirements of the central nervous system, no genetic disease caused by dysfunctional blood-brain barrier transport has been identified. Several years ago, we described two patients with infantile seizures, delayed development and acquired microcephaly who have normal circulating blood glucose, low-to-normal cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) lactate, but persistent hypoglycorrachia (low CSF glucose) and diminished transport of hexose into isolated red blood cells (RBC). These symptoms suggested the existence of a defect in glucose transport across the blood brain barrier. We now report two distinct classes of mutations as the molecular basis for the functional defect of glucose transport: hemizygosity of GLUT1 and nonsense mutations resulting in truncation of the GLUT-1 protein.

A gene encoding a P-type ATPase mutated in two forms of hereditary cholestasis.

Year 1998
Bull LN. van Eijk MJ. Pawlikowska L. DeYoung JA. Juijn JA. Liao M. Klomp LW. Lomri N. Berger R. Scharschmidt BF. Knisely AS. Houwen RH. Freimer NB.
Department of Psychiatry and Liver Center, University of California San Francisco, 94143, USA.
Cholestasis, or impaired bile flow, is an important but poorly understood manifestation of liver disease. Two clinically distinct forms of inherited cholestasis, benign recurrent intrahepatic cholestasis (BRIC) and progressive familial intrahepatic cholestasis type 1 (PFIC1), were previously mapped to 18q21. Haplotype analysis narrowed the candidate region for both diseases to the same interval of less than 1 cM, in which we identified a gene mutated in BRIC and PFIC1 patients. This gene (called FIC1) is the first identified human member of a recently described subfamily of P-type ATPases; ATP-dependent aminophospholipid transport is the previously described function of members of this subfamily. FIC1 is expressed in several epithelial tissues and, surprisingly, more strongly in small intestine than in liver. Its protein product is likely to play an essential role in enterohepatic circulation of bile acids; further characterization of FIC1 will facilitate understanding of normal bile formation and cholestasis.

Expression of TERT in early premalignant lesions and a subset of cells in normal tissues.

Year 1998
Kolquist KA. Ellisen LW. Counter CM. Meyerson M. Tan LK. Weinberg RA. Haber DA. Gerald WL.
Department of Pathology, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York 10021, USA.
Activation of telomerase, the enzyme that synthesizes the telomere ends of linear chromosomes, has been implicated in human cell immortalization and cancer cell pathogenesis. Enzyme activity is undetectable in most normal cells and tissues, but present in immortal cells and cancer tissues. While expression of TERC, the RNA component of telomerase, is widespread, the restricted expression pattern of TERT, the telomerase catalytic subunit gene, is correlated with telomerase activity, and its ectopic expression in telomerase-negative cells is sufficient to reconstitute telomerase activity and extend cellular lifespan. We have used in situ hybridization to study TERT expression at the single-cell level in normal tissues and in various stages of tumour progression. In normal tissues, including some that are known to be telomerase-negative, TERT mRNA was present in specific subsets of cells thought to have long-term proliferative capacity. This included mitotically inactive breast lobular epithelium in addition to some actively regenerating cells such as the stratum basale of the skin. TERT expression appeared early during tumorigenesis in vivo, beginning with early pre-invasive changes in human breast and colon tissues and increasing gradually during progression, both in the amount of TERT mRNA present within individual cells and in the number of expressing cells within a neoplastic lesion. The physiological expression of TERT within normal epithelial cells that retain proliferative potential and its presence at the earliest stages of tumorigenesis have implications for the regulation of telomerase expression and for the identification of cells that may be targets for malignant transformation.

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