Current Genomics (v.16, #2)

Meet the Editorial Board: by Celine Lefebvre (71-71).

Meet the Editorial Board: by Fabio Coppede (72-73).

Atrial fibrillation (AF) remains the most common pathologic dysrhythmia in humans with a prevalence of 1-2% of the total population and as high as 10% of the elderly. AF is an independent risk marker for cardiovascular mortality and morbidity, and given the increasing age of the population, represents an increasing burden of disease. Although age and hypertension are known risk factors for development of AF, the study of families with early onset AF revealed mutations in genes coding for ion channels and other proteins involved in electrotonic coupling as likely culprits for the pathology in select cases. Recent investigations using Genome-Wide Association Studies have revealed several single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that appear to be associated with AF and have highlighted new genes in the proximity of the SNPs that may potentially contribute to the development of the dysrhythmia. Here we review the genetics of AF and discuss how application of GWAS and next generation sequencing have advanced our knowledge of AF and further investigations may yield novel therapeutic targets for the disease.

Common Variants for Heart Failure by Shutong Shen, Lichan Tao, Xiuzhi Wang, Xiangqing Kong, Xinli Li (82-87).
Heart failure (HF) is a common disease with high morbidity and mortality; however, none of the drugs available are now entirely optimal for the treatment of HF. In addition to various clinical diseases and environment influences, genetic factors also contribute to the development and progression of HF. Identifying the common variants for HF by genome-wide association studies will facilitate the understanding of pathophysiological mechanisms underlying HF. This review summarizes the recently identified common variants for HF risk and outcome and discusses their implications for the clinic therapy.

Heart Failure in Chronic Myocarditis: A Role for microRNAs? by P. van den Hoogen, F. van den Akker, J.C. Deddens, J.P.G. Sluijter (88-94).
Myocarditis is an inflammatory disease of the heart, which can persist over a long time. During this time, known as the chronic phase of myocarditis, ongoing inflammation damages the cardiomyocytes. The loss of cardiac cells culminates in the development of dilated cardiomyopathy, often followed by non-ischemic heart failure due to diminished cardiac function. During the course of the disease, expression levels of non-coding small RNAs, called microRNAs (miRNAs), change. Although mainly studied in the acute setting, some of these changes in expression level appear to persist in the chronic phase. In addition to being a much-needed diagnostic tool, these miRNA could provide new treatment options. miRNA-based intervention strategies already showed promising results in the treatment of ischemic cardiovascular diseases in preclinical animal models. By implementing more knowledge on the role of miRNAs in the progression towards heart failure, this can potentially be used in the development of miRNA-based therapeutic interventions in the treatment of myocarditis and thereby preventing the progression towards heart failure. The first part of this review will focus on the natural course of myocarditis and the progression towards heart failure. Secondly, we will discuss the current knowledge on alterations of miRNA expression patterns, and suggest some possible future interventions.

Exercise-induced Physiological Hypertrophy: Insights from Genomics by Dongchao Lv, Qi Sun, Yuping Deng, Jiahong Xu, Huansen Huang, Junjie Xiao (95-98).
Cardiac hypertrophy can be divided as pathological hypertrophy and physiological hypertrophy. Unlike pathological hypertrophy, physiological hypertrophy is a beneficial adaptive response, which will not cause heart failure and sudden death and can protect adverse cardiac remodeling. Exercise training is widely known to cause physiological hypertrophy. The genomic basis of pathological hypertrophy and heart failure has been well-known and is well-reviewed. In this review, we will review the genomic profiles of physiological hypertrophy and also summarize genes and microRNAs responsible for exercise-induced physiological hypertrophy. With better understanding of physiological hypertrophy, manipulation of genes or miRNAs responsible for physiological hypertrophy will offer exciting avenues for treating heart failure.

Normalized nucleotide and amino acid contents of complete genome sequences can be visualized as radar charts. The shapes of these charts depict the characteristics of an organism's genome. The normalized values calculated from the genome sequence theoretically exclude experimental errors. Further, because normalization is independent of both target size and kind, this procedure is applicable not only to single genes but also to whole genomes, which consist of a huge number of different genes. In this review, we discuss the applications of the normalization of the nucleotide and predicted amino acid contents of complete genomes to the investigation of genome structure and to evolutionary research from primitive organisms to Homo sapiens. Some of the results could never have been obtained from the analysis of individual nucleotide or amino acid sequences but were revealed only after the normalization of nucleotide and amino acid contents was applied to genome research. The discovery that genome structure was homogeneous was obtained only after normalization methods were applied to the nucleotide or predicted amino acid contents of genome sequences. Normalization procedures are also applicable to evolutionary research. Thus, normalization of the contents of whole genomes is a useful procedure that can help to characterize organisms.

Genomic and Epigenetic Complexity of the FOXF1 Locus in 16q24.1: Implications for Development and Disease by Avinash V. Dharmadhikari, Przemyslaw Szafranski, Vladimir V. Kalinichenko, Pawel Stankiewicz (107-116).
The FOXF1 (Forkhead box F1) gene, located on chromosome 16q24.1 encodes a member of the FOX family of transcription factors characterized by a distinct forkhead DNA binding domain. FOXF1 plays an important role in epithelium-mesenchyme signaling, as a downstream target of Sonic hedgehog pathway. Heterozygous point mutations and genomic deletions involving FOXF1 have been reported in newborns with a lethal lung developmental disorder, Alveolar Capillary Dysplasia with Misalignment of Pulmonary Veins (ACDMPV). In addition, genomic deletions upstream to FOXF1 identified in ACDMPV patients have revealed that FOXF1 expression is tightly regulated by distal tissue-specific enhancers. Interestingly, FOXF1 has been found to be incompletely paternally imprinted in human lungs; characterized genomic deletions arose de novo exclusively on maternal chromosome 16, with most of them being Alu-Alu mediated. Regulation of FOXF1 expression likely utilizes a combination of chromosomal looping, differential methylation of an upstream CpG island overlapping GLI transcription factor binding sites, and the function of lung-specific long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs). Foxf1 knock-out mouse models demonstrated its critical role in mesoderm differentiation and in the development of pulmonary vasculature. Additionally, epigenetic inactivation of FOXF1 has been reported in breast and colorectal cancers, whereas overexpression of FOXF1 has been associated with a number of other human cancers, e.g. medulloblastoma and rhabdomyosarcoma. Constitutional duplications of FOXF1 have recently been reported in congenital intestinal malformations. Thus, understanding the genomic and epigenetic complexity at the FOXF1 locus will improve diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of ACDMPV and other human disorders associated with FOXF1 alterations.

Changing Faces of Transcriptional Regulation Reflected by Zic3 by Cecilia Lanny Winata, Igor Kondrychyn, Vladimir Korzh (117-127).
The advent of genomics in the study of developmental mechanisms has brought a trove of information on gene datasets and regulation during development, where the Zic family of zinc-finger proteins plays an important role. Genomic analysis of the modes of action of Zic3 in pluripotent cells demonstrated its requirement for maintenance of stem cells pluripotency upon binding to the proximal regulatory regions (promoters) of genes associated with cell pluripotency (Nanog, Sox2, Oct4, etc.) as well as cell cycle, proliferation, oncogenesis and early embryogenesis. In contrast, during gastrulation and neurulation Zic3 acts by binding the distal regulatory regions (enhancers, etc) associated with control of gene transcription in the Nodal and Wnt signaling pathways, including genes that act to break body symmetry. This illustrates a general role of Zic3 as a transcriptional regulator that acts not only alone, but in many instances in conjunction with other transcription factors. The latter is done by binding to adjacent sites in the context of multi-transcription factor complexes associated with regulatory elements.

Post-translational modification is the most common mechanism of regulating protein function. If phosphorylation is considered a key event in many signal transduction pathways, other modifications must be considered as well. In particular the side chain of lysine residues is a target of different modifications; notably acetylation, methylation, ubiquitylation, sumoylation, neddylation, etc. Mass spectrometry approaches combining highly sensitive instruments and specific enrichment strategies have enabled the identification of modified sites on a large scale. Here we make a comparative analysis of the most representative lysine modifications (ubiquitylation, acetylation, sumoylation and methylation) identified in the human proteome. This review focuses on conserved amino acids, secondary structures preference, subcellular localization of modified proteins, and signaling pathways where these modifications are implicated. We discuss specific differences and similarities between these modifications, characteristics of the crosstalk among lysine post translational modifications, and single nucleotide polymorphisms that could influence lysine post-translational modifications in humans.