Articles written in Journal of Genetics

    • Preparation of megabase DNA from adult insects and mammalian spleen for pulsed-field gel electrophoresis

      Vani Brahmachari R. Nagasuma Samir K. Brahmachari

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      While standard techniques for obtaining megabase-size DNA from microorganisms and cells in tissue culture are now available, new methods are needed for handling solid tissues and, in the case of small-sized animals, whole organisms. Here we describe a simple and rapid method for preparing large DNA molecules from mammalian spleen, whole insects of Drosophila andPlanococcus lilacinus, a mealybug. Briefly the method involves gentle steps for preparing cell suspensions and handling of these cells within agarose blocks for preparing the DNA. In mammals like mice, the spleen, rather than the liver, is the organ of choice because, in the latter, endogenous nuclease activity is high.

    • Paradigm for disease deconvolution in rare neurodegenerative disorders in Indian population: insights from studies in cerebellar ataxias


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      Cerebellar ataxias are a group of rare progressive neurodegenerative disorders with an average prevalence ranges from 4.8 to 13.8 in 100,000 individuals. The inherited disorders affect multiple members of the families, or a community that is endogamous or consanguineous. Presence of more than 3000 mutations in different genes with overlapping clinical symptoms, genetic anticipation and pleiotropy, as well as incomplete penetrance and variable expressivity due to modifiers pose challenges in genotype–phenotype correlation. Development of a diagnostic algorithm could reduce the time as well as cost in clinicogenetic diagnostics and also help in reducing the economic and social burden of the disease. In a unique research collaboration spanning over 20 years, we have been able to develop a paradigm for studying cerebellar ataxias in the Indian population which would also be relevant in other rare diseases. This has involved clinical and genetic analysis of thousands of families from diverse Indian populations. The extensive resource on ataxia has led to the development of a clinicogenetic algorithm for cost-effective screening of ataxia and a unique ataxia clinic in thetertiary referral centre in All India Institute of Medical Sciences. Utilizing a population polymorphism scanning approach, we have been able to dissect the mechanisms of repeat instability and expansion in many ataxias, and also identify founders, and trace the mutational histories in the Indian population. This provides information for genetic testing of at—risk as well as protected individuals and populations. To dissect uncharacterized cases which comprises more than 50% of the cases, we have explored the potential of next-generation sequencing technologies coupled with the extensive resource of baseline data generated in-house and other public domains. We have also developed a repository of patient-derived peripheral blood mononuclear cells, lymphoblastoid cell lines andneuronal lineages (derived from iPSCs) for ascribing functionality to novel genes/mutations. Through integrating these technologies, novel genes have been identified that has broadened the diagnostic panel, increased the diagnostic yield to over 75%, helped in ascribing pathogenicity to novel mutations and enabled understanding of disease mechanisms. It has also provided a platform fortesting novel molecules for amelioration of pathophysiological phenotypes. This review through a perspective on CAs suggests a generic paradigm from diagnostics to therapeutic interventions for rare disorders in the context of heterogeneous Indian populations.

    • Meta-analysis of genomic variants and gene expression data in schizophrenia suggests the potential need for adjunctive therapeutic interventions for neuropsychiatric disorders


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      Schizophrenia (SZ) is a debilitating mental illness with a multigenic aetiology and significant heritability. Despite extensive genetic studies, the molecular aetiology has remained enigmatic. A recent systems biology study suggested a protein–protein interaction network for SZ with 504 novel interactions. The onset of psychiatric disorders is predominant during adolescence, often accompanied by subtle structural abnormalities in multiple regions of the brain. The availability of BrainSpan Atlas data allowed us to re-examine the genes present in the SZ interactome as a function of space and time. The availability of genomes of healthy centenarians and nonpsychiatric Exome Aggregation Consortium database allowed us to identify the variants of criticality. The expression of the SZ candidate genes responsible for cognition and disease onset was studied in different brain regions during particular developmental stages. A subset of novel interactors detected in the network was further validated using gene expression data of post-mortem brains of patients with psychiatric illness. We have narrowed down the list of drug targets proposed by theprevious interactome study to 10 proteins. These proteins belonging to 81 biological pathways are targeted by 34 known Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs that have distinct potential for the treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders. We also report the possibility of targeting key genes belonging to celecoxib pharmacodynamics, Gα signalling and cGMP-PKG signalling pathwaysthat are not known to be specific to SZ aetiology.

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