Dec 4, 2019
Jane Ferguson: Hi there. Welcome to the November 2019 issue of Getting Personal: Omics of the Heart. I'm Jane Ferguson. This is your podcast from Circulation: Genomic and Precision Medicine. Let's get started.
First up from Eric Curruth, Christopher Haggerty and colleagues from Geisinger, we have a paper entitled, “Prevalence and Electronic Health Record-based Phenotype of Loss-of-function Genetic Variance in Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy-associated Genes”. In this study, the team set out to understand the phenotypic consequences of variants and desmosome genes which has been associated with a arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy or ARVC. In clinical genetic testing, secondary findings of pathogenic or likely pathogenic variants in desmosome genes are recommended for clinical reporting. However, relatively little is known about the phenotypic consequences of these variants in a general clinical population.
The team obtained whole exome sequencing data for over 61,000 individuals from the DiscovEHR cohort, part of the Geisinger MyCode Community Health Initiative. They then screened individuals for a putative loss of function variants in PKP2, DSC2, DSG2, and DSP. They evaluated ARVC diagnostic criteria using previously conducted ECG and echocardiograms and performed a phenom-wide association study or PHeWAS using EHR derived phenotypes. They found 140 people with an ARVC variant in one of the four genes, none of whom had an existing diagnosis of ARVC in the EHR.
Further, there were no measurable differences in their ECG or echocardiogram findings compared with matched controls. There were also no associations with any heart disease phenotypes as assessed by PHeWAS. Overall, they report a prevalence of ARVC loss of function variants of around one in 435 in a general clinical population of predominantly European descent, but they did not find evidence that these variants associated with specific phenotypes. Thus, the clinical relevance of putative loss of function variants in desmosome genes still remains to be determined.
The next paper is titled, “MRAS Variants Cause Cardiomyocyte Hypertrophy in Patients-specific iPSC-derived Cardiomyocytes”. Additional evidence for MRS as a definitive Noonan syndrome susceptibility gene. This comes from Erin Higgins, Michael Ackerman, and colleagues from the Mayo Clinic. They were interested in understanding whether a recently identified Noonan syndrome variant in the MRS gene was necessary and sufficient to cause Noonan syndrome with cardiac hypertrophy. They generated induced pluripotent STEM cell or IPS C lines from patient derived cells carrying the glycine 23 veiling variant and MRS. In addition to isogenic control cells where the pathogenic variant was corrected back to wild-type using CRISPR CAS nine gene editing, they also created a disease model cell line by introducing the MRS variant into unrelated control cells.
They then comprehensively characterized the phenotypes of the three cell lines using a variety of approaches including microscopy, immunofluorescence, single cell RNA seek, Western blot, qPCR, and live cell calcium imaging. Both the patient derived and the disease model IPS cardiomyocytes were larger than control cells and demonstrated changes in gene expression and intracellular pathway signaling characteristic of cardiac hypertrophy. The patient and disease model cells also displayed impaired calcium handling. Through in-vitro phenotyping, the team was able to demonstrate that the glycine 23 veiling MRS variant elicits a cardiac hypertrophy phenotype and IPSC cardiomyocytes, that strongly suggests that this variant is responsible for the observed Noonan syndrome associated cardiac hypertrophy in the effected patients.
Next up is a review from Christopher Lee, Iftikhar Kullo, and colleagues also from the Mayo Clinic on “New Case Detection by Cascade Testing in Familial Hypercholesterolemia: A Systematic Review of the Literature”. In this review they set out to systematically assess cascade testing programs for familial hypercholesterolemia, a disease which has a prevalence of about one and 250 but is estimated to be diagnosed in under 10% of patients. They identified published studies across the world which had conducted cascade testing and had reported the number of index cases and number of relatives tested and had also specified their methods of contacting relatives and testing.
Using these criteria, they identified 10 studies for inclusion spanning several European countries, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, and Brazil. The team calculated the proportion of relatives testing positive and the number of new cases per index case to facilitate comparison between studies. The mean number of programs was 242 with an average of 826 relatives per study. The average yield was 45%, ranging from 30 to 60%. the mean new cases per index case was 1.65 with a range of 0.22 to 8.0. Studies that use direct contact versus indirect contact for relatives and those that tested beyond first degree relatives had a greater yield. Further, active sample collection versus collection at clinic and using genetic testing versus biochemical testing was similarly associated with a higher yield. Despite differences between the United States and other countries, applying these strategies when establishing new cascade testing programs in the US may help promote success of these programs.
Our next paper concerns “Randomization of Left-right Asymmetry and Congenital Heart Defects: The Role of DNAH5 in Humans and Mice”. And this was conducted by Tabea Nöthe-Menchen, Heymut Omran, and colleagues from University Children's Hospital Muenster and the PCD study group. They were interested in understanding the relationship between congenital heart defects and laterality defects where internal organs are atypically positioned, such as in a mirror image as occurs in situs inversus. Ciliary dyskinesia is thought to play a role in situs inversus and the most frequently mutated gene in primary ciliary dyskinesia is DNAH5. The team does hypothesize that DNAH5 mutations may play a role in congenital heart disease. They characterized phenotypes in 132 patients with primary ciliary dyskinesia carrying disease causing DNAH5 mutations and also studied left right access establishment using a DNAH5 mutant mouse model.
66% of patients in their study had laterality defects, 88% of whom presented with situs inversus totalis and 6% presented with congenital heart disease. In the mass model, they observed immotile cilia, impaired flow with the left right organizer and randomization of nodal signaling with normal reversed or bilateral expression of key molecules. Their study thus demonstrates that mutation of DNAH5 is associated with congenital heart defects and they further highlight the ciliary mechanisms underlying defects and development of left right positioning during embryogenesis. Consideration of celiopathy related symptoms may be warranted when examining patients with congenital heart defects.
Next up, we have a research letter from William Goodyear, Marco Perez and colleagues from Stanford University on “Broad Genetic Testing in a Clinical Setting Uncovers a High Prevalence of Titan Loss-of-Function Variants in Very Early-Onset Atrial Fibrillation”. They were interested in understanding genetic determinants of atrial fibrillation and hypothesized that causal genetic variants would be enriched in individuals with very early onset AF, who are diagnosed with AF under the age of 45 with no other significant comorbidities. They identified 25 families comprising 23 unrelated patients with very early onset AF who had been evaluated and received genetic counseling at Stanford between 2014 and 2018.
The mean age of AF diagnosis was 27.2 years and 76% of patients were male. 40% of patients had a first or second degree relative with very early onset AF, while 36% at first or second degree relatives with either early onset idiopathic cardiomyopathy, unexplained sudden death or strokes. 85% of patients were identified as having at least one rare variant in a cardiomyopathy associated gene. Six patients carried actionable pathogenic or likely pathogenic variants, four of which were in the titan gene.
A subset of individuals were further evaluated by MRI or computed tomography on average 817 days after their first presentation and this revealed high rates of cardiac abnormalities including reduced ventricular function, chamber enlargement, borderline LV non compaction, or late gadolinium enhancement. These were not noted on echocardiogram at presentation, suggesting there may have been subsequent disease development or progression. Overall, this study highlights a high rate of familial disease and implicates an association between very early onset AF and rare variants in titan before the clinical onset of cardiomyopathy.
The final letter this month comes from Yu Xia, Shaoxian Chen, Ping Li, Jian Zhuang and colleagues from Guangdong Academy of Medical Sciences and is entitled, “A Novel Mutation in MYH6 in Two Unrelated Chinese Han Families with Familial Atrial Septal Defect”. They report on two unrelated families who presented with secundum atrial septal defect or ASD2. Whole exome sequencing revealed a novel variant and the MYH6 gene in both families, with the same variant present in all effected individuals but not in unaffected family members or unrelated controls. Because other variants in MYH6 have been reported to effect myofibril formation. The team studied the effect of the novel variant on the myofibrillar organization through transient transfection of CTC 12 cells. The MYH6 E526K variant was associated with a reduced striated I pattern and increased non-striated patterning. There was no effect on ATPase activity.
Protein modeling suggested a variant of the effective position would reduce hydrogen bonding between alpha helices in the actin interface two region, increasing the volume of the cavity between the alpha helices and promoting the exposure of the alkaline side chain in the actin binding region. This could impair the interaction between the myosin motor head and actin. What these data suggests are that this novel MYH6 heterozygous variant may underlie ASD2 in two unrelated Chinese Han families by impairing myofibrillar organization.
That's all for November 2019. Thank you for listening and I look forward to being back in December for the final episode of 2019.
This podcast was brought to you by Circulation: Genomic and Precision Medicine and the American Heart Association council on genomic and precision medicine. This program is copyright American Heart Association 2019.