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  • Lund, Carina; Yellapragada, Venkatram; Vuoristo, Sanna; Balboa, Diego; Trova, Sara; Allet, Cecile; Eskici, Nazli; Pulli, Kristiina; Giacobini, Paolo; Tuuri, Timo; Raivio, Taneli (2020)
    Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons provide a fundamental signal for the onset of puberty and subsequent reproductive functions by secretion of gonadotropin-releasing hormone. Their disrupted development or function leads to congenital hypogonadotropic hypogonadism (CHH). To model the development of human GnRH neurons, we generated a stable GNRH1-TdTomato reporter cell line in human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) using CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing. RNA-sequencing of the reporter clone, differentiated into GnRH neurons by dual SMAD inhibition and FGF8 treatment, revealed 6461 differentially expressed genes between progenitors and GnRH neurons. Expression of the transcription factor ISL1, one of the top 50 most upregulated genes in the TdTomato-expressing GnRH neurons, was confirmed in 10.5 gestational week-old human fetal GnRH neurons. Among the differentially expressed genes, we detected 15 genes that are implicated in CHH and several genes that are implicated in human puberty timing. Finally, FGF8 treatment in the neuronal progenitor pool led to upregulation of 37 genes expressed both in progenitors and in TdTomato-expressing GnRH neurons, which suggests upstream regulation of these genes by FGF8 signaling during GnRH neuron differentiation. These results illustrate how hPSC-derived human GnRH neuron transcriptomic analysis can be utilized to dissect signaling pathways and gene regulatory networks involved in human GnRH neuron development.This article has an associated First Person interview with the first author of the paper.
  • Eating Disorder Working Grp Psych; Huckins, L. M.; Palotie, A.; Palta, P.; Kaprio, J.; Keski-Rahkonen, A.; Raevuori, A. H. (2018)
    Anorexia nervosa (AN) is a complex neuropsychiatric disorder presenting with dangerously low body weight, and a deep and persistent fear of gaining weight. To date, only one genome-wide significant locus associated with AN has been identified. We performed an exome-chip based genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in 2158 cases from nine populations of European origin and 15 485 ancestrally matched controls. Unlike previous studies, this GWAS also probed association in low-frequency and rare variants. Sixteen independent variants were taken forward for in silico and de novo replication (11 common and 5 rare). No findings reached genome-wide significance. Two notable common variants were identified: rs10791286, an intronic variant in OPCML (P = 9.89 x 10(-6)), and rs7700147, an intergenic variant (P = 2.93 x 10(-5)). No low-frequency variant associations were identified at genome-wide significance, although the study was well-powered to detect low-frequency variants with large effect sizes, suggesting that there may be no AN loci in this genomic search space with large effect sizes.
  • Iivonen, Anna-Pauliina; Kärkinen, Juho; Yellapragada, Venkatram; Sidoroff, Virpi; Almusa, Henrikki; Vaaralahti, Kirsi; Raivio, Taneli (2021)
    Patients with deletions on chromosome 9q31.2 may exhibit delayed puberty, craniofacial phenotype including cleft lip/palate, and olfactory bulb hypoplasia. We report a patient with congenital HH with anosmia (Kallmann syndrome, KS) and a de novo 2.38 Mb heterozygous deletion in 9q31.2. The deletion breakpoints (determined with wholegenome linked-read sequencing) were in the FKTN gene (9:108,331,353) and in a non-coding area (9:110,707,332) (hg19). The deletion encompassed six protein-coding genes (FKTN, ZNF462, TAL2, TMEM38B, RAD23B, and KLF4). ZNF462 haploinsufficiency was consistent with the patient's Weiss-Kruszka syndrome (craniofacial phenotype, developmental delay, and sensorineural hearing loss), but did not explain his KS. In further analyses, he did not carry rare sequence variants in 32 known KS genes in whole-exome sequencing and displayed no aberrant splicing of 15 KS genes that were expressed in peripheral blood leukocyte transcriptome. The deletion was 1.8 Mb upstream of a KS candidate gene locus (PALM2AKAP2) but did not suppress its expression. In conclusion, this is the first report of a patient with Weiss-Kruszka syndrome and KS. We suggest that patients carrying a microdeletion in 9q31.2 should be evaluated for the presence of KS and KS-related features.
  • Yellapragada, Venkatram; Liu, Xiaonan; Lund, Carina; Känsäkoski, Johanna; Pulli, Kristiina; Vuoristo, Sanna; Lundin, Karolina; Tuuri, Timo; Varjosalo, Markku; Raivio, Taneli (2019)
    Paternally-inherited loss-of-function mutations in makorin ring finger protein 3 gene (MKRN3) underlie central precocious puberty. To investigate the puberty-related mechanism(s) of MKRN3 in humans, we generated two distinct bi-allelic MKRN3 knock-out human pluripotent stem cell lines, Del 1 and Del 2, and differentiated them into GNRH1-expressing neurons. Both Del 1 and Del 2 clones could be differentiated into neuronal progenitors and GNRH1-expressing neurons, however, the relative expression of GNRH1 did not differ from wild type cells (P = NS). Subsequently, we investigated stable and dynamic protein-protein interaction (PPI) partners of MKRN3 by stably expressing it in HEK cells followed by mass spectrometry analyses. We found 81 high-confidence novel protein interaction partners, which are implicated in cellular processes such as insulin signaling, RNA metabolism and cell-cell adhesion. Of the identified interactors, 20 have been previously implicated in puberty timing. In conclusion, our stem cell model for generation of GNRH1 -expressing neurons did not offer mechanistic insight for the role of MKRN3 in puberty initiation. The PPI data, however, indicate that MKRN3 may regulate puberty by interacting with other puberty-related proteins. Further studies are required to elucidate the possible mechanisms and outcomes of these interactions.
  • Leinonen, Jaakko T.; Chen, Yu-Chia; Tukiainen, Taru; Panula, Pertti; Widen, Elisabeth (2019)
    Recent genome-wide association studies and mouse models have identified LIN28B as a gene affecting several pubertal timing-related traits and vertebrate growth. However, the exact biological mechanisms underlying the associations remain unknown. We have explored the mechanisms linking LIN28B with growth regulation by combining human gene expression data with functional models. Specifically, we show that 1) pubertal timing-associated genetic variation correlates with LIN28B expression in the pituitary and hypothalamus, 2) downregulating lin28b in zebrafish embryos associates with aberrant development of kiss2-neurons, and 3) increasing lin28b expression transiently by synthetic mRNA injections during embryogenesis results in sustained enhancement of zebrafish growth. Unexpectedly, the mRNA injections resulted in advanced sexual maturation of female fish, suggesting that lin28b may influence pubertal timing through multiple developmental mechanisms. Overall, these results provide novel insight into LIN28B function in vertebrate growth regulation, emphasizing the importance of the gene and related genetic pathways for embryonic and juvenile development.