Ion channels are pore-forming proteins that provide pathways for the controlled movement of ions into or out of cells. Ionic movement across cell membranes is critical for essential and physiological processes ranging from control of the strength and duration of the heartbeat to the regulation of insulin secretion in pancreatic β cells. Diseases caused by mutations in genes that encode ion channel subunits or regulatory proteins are referred to as channelopathies. As might be expected based on the diverse roles of ion channels, channelopathies range from inherited cardiac arrhythmias, to muscle disorders, to forms of diabetes. This series of reviews examines the roles of ion channels in health and disease.
Robert S. Kass
Human parainfluenza viruses cause several serious respiratory diseases in children for which there is no effective prevention or therapy. Parainfluenza viruses initiate infection by binding to cell surface receptors and then, via coordinated action of the 2 viral surface glycoproteins, fuse directly with the cell membrane to release the viral replication machinery into the host cell’s cytoplasm. During this process, the receptor-binding molecule must trigger the viral fusion protein to mediate fusion and entry of the virus into a cell. This review explores the binding and entry into cells of parainfluenza virus type 3, focusing on how the receptor-binding molecule triggers the fusion process. There are several steps during the process of binding, triggering, and fusion that are now understood at the molecular level, and each of these steps represents potential targets for interrupting infection.
The mapping of disease genes to specific loci has received a great deal of attention in the last decade, and many advances in therapeutics have resulted. Here we review family-based and population-based methods for association analysis. We define the factors that determine statistical power and show how study design and analysis should be designed to maximize the probability of localizing disease genes.
Derek Gordon, Stephen J. Finch
Recent advances in statistical methods and genomic technologies have ushered in a new era in mapping clinically important quantitative traits. However, many refinements and novel statistical approaches are required to enable greater successes in this mapping. The possible impact of recent findings pertaining to the structure of the human genome on efforts to map quantitative traits is yet unclear.
Partha P. Majumder, Saurabh Ghosh
The causal chain between a gene and its effect on disease susceptibility cannot be understood until the effect has been localized in the DNA sequence. Recently, polymorphisms incorporated in the HapMap Project have made linkage disequilibrium (LD) the most powerful tool for localization. The genetics of LD, the maps and databases that it provides, and their use for association mapping, as well as alternative methods for gene localization, are briefly described.
Newton E. Morton
Conventional genetic analysis focuses on the genes that account for specific phenotypes, while traditional epidemiology is more concerned with the environmental causes and risk factors related to traits. Genetic epidemiology is an alliance of the 2 fields that focuses on both genetics, including allelic variants in different populations, and environment, in order to explain exactly how genes convey effects in different environmental contexts and to arrive at a more complete comprehension of the etiology of complex traits. In this review, we discuss the epidemiology of diabetes and the current understanding of the genetic bases of obesity and diabetes and provide suggestions for accelerated accumulation of clinically useful genetic information.
M. Alan Permutt, Jonathon Wasson, Nancy Cox
Genetic epidemiological studies suggest that individual variation in susceptibility to schizophrenia is largely genetic, reflecting alleles of moderate to small effect in multiple genes. Molecular genetic studies have identified a number of potential regions of linkage and 2 associated chromosomal abnormalities, and accumulating evidence favors several positional candidate genes. These findings are grounds for optimism that insight into genetic factors associated with schizophrenia will help further our understanding of this disease and contribute to the development of new ways to treat it.
George Kirov, Michael C. O’Donovan, Michael J. Owen
Gene defects play a major role in the pathogenesis of degenerative disorders of the nervous system. In fact, it has been the very knowledge gained from genetic studies that has allowed the elucidation of the molecular mechanisms underlying the etiology and pathogenesis of many neurodegenerative disorders. In this review, we discuss the current status of genetic epidemiology of the most common neurodegenerative diseases: Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease, Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal dementia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Huntington disease, and prion diseases, with a particular focus on similarities and differences among these syndromes.
Lars Bertram, Rudolph E. Tanzi
The remarkable achievements in human genetics over the years have been due to technological advances in gene mapping and in statistical methods that relate genetic variants to disease. Nearly every Mendelian genetic disorder has now been mapped to a specific gene or set of genes, but these discoveries have been limited to high-risk, variant alleles that segregate in rare families. With a working draft of the human genome now in hand, the availability of high-throughput genotyping, a plethora of genetic markers, and the development of new analytical methods, scientists are now turning their attention to common complex disorders such as diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and Alzheimer disease. In this issue, the JCI provides readers with a series dedicated to complex genetic disorders, offering a view of genetic medicine in the 21st century.
Over the last decade, an abundance of evidence has emerged demonstrating a close link between metabolism and immunity. It is now clear that obesity is associated with a state of chronic low-level inflammation. In this article, we discuss the molecular and cellular underpinnings of obesity-induced inflammation and the signaling pathways at the intersection of metabolism and inflammation that contribute to diabetes. We also consider mechanisms through which the inflammatory response may be initiated and discuss the reasons for the inflammatory response in obesity. We put forth for consideration some hypotheses regarding important unanswered questions in the field and suggest a model for the integration of inflammatory and metabolic pathways in metabolic disease.
Kathryn E. Wellen, Gökhan S. Hotamisligil
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