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Free Content Correlation Between Genetic Variations in Hox Clusters and Hirschsprung's Disease

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Interactions between migrating neural crest cells and the environment of the gut are crucial for the development of the enteric nervous system (ENS). A key signalling mediator is the RET-receptor-tyrosine-kinase which, when defective, causes Hirschprung's disease (HSCR, colon aganglionosis). RET mutations alone cannot account for the variable HSCR phenotype, invoking interactions with as yet unknown, and probably inter-related, loci involved in ENS development. Homeobox (HOX) genes have a major role in gut development as depicted by the enteric Hox code. We investigated whether DNA alterations in HOX genes, either alone or in combination with RET, are implicated in HSCR. Genotyping effort was minimized by applying the HapMap data on Han Chinese from Beijing (CHB). 194 HSCR patients and 168 controls were genotyped using Sequenom technology for 72 tag, single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) distributed along the HOX clusters. The HapMap frequencies were compared to those in our population and standard statistics were used for frequency comparisons. The multifactor-dimensionality-reduction method was used for multilocus analysis, in which RET promoter SNP genotypes were included. Genetic interactions were found between two HOX loci (5′-HOXA13 and 3′UTR-HOXB7) and the RET loci tested. Minor allele frequencies (MAF) of the SNPs tested in our sample were not significantly different from those reported by HapMap when the sample sizes of the populations compared were considered. This is the first evaluation of the HOX genes in HSCR and the first application of HapMap data in a Chinese population. The interacting HOX loci may affect the penetrance of the RET risk allele. HapMap data for the CHB population correlated well with the general Chinese population.
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Keywords: HOX; Hirschsprung; RET

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Division of Paediatric Surgery, Department of Surgery, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine of the University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China 2: Department of Community Medicine & School of Public Health, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China 3: Department of Paediatric Surgery, Beijing Children's Hospital, Capital University of Medical Sciences, China 4: Computational Genetics Laboratory, Department of Genetics, Dartmouth Medical School, Lebanon, NH 03756, USA

Publication date: July 1, 2007

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