Friday, February 24, 2012

Proteomics of fasting

It was with keen interest that I read the article by Bouwman, et al. entitled “2D-electrophoresis and multiplex immunoassay proteomic analysis of different body fluids and cellular components reveal known and novel markers for extended fasting,” which appeared in BMC Medical Genomics last week. As we are interested in the genetic basis for the differential response to diet, we view perturbations to the system, either by a high-fat intervention or fasting/calorie restriction, as instrumental in deciphering this response. Overall, I found this to be nice work and deserving of a wide audience.

The authors report that “[p]rincipal component analysis applied to the multiplex immunoassay (RBM) data set revealed that each of the subjects could be identified based on levels of 89 plasma proteins (see figure 3). It appears that such data can be used to provide a metabolic fingerprint of the individual volunteers participating in this intervention study. However, this demonstrates that the between-subject effects are larger than that of the fasting effect.”

This is not surprising given that of the 44 different proteins identified as responding to extended fasting (see tables 2 & 3, figure 4), nine are encoded by genes harboring variants responding differentially to environmental factors such as dietary intake and physical activity. The dietary component most often modulating the association between those genes (and their variants) and a phenotype pertinent to metabolic syndrome is fat. Physical activity is also a wide-reaching modulator of the association between genetic variation and various phenotypes pertinent to metabolic syndrome. In other words, a combination of genetic variation between study participants in combination with each individual’s lifestyle choices (say, more or less exercise) could indeed influence the levels of certain proteins found to respond to the fasting intervention.

At the same time, I cannot dispute, as the authors write, that the between-subject variation may have arisen from heterogeneity of the study cohort “with regard to various parameters, including gender and BMI.” This is logical, but again other factors such as habitual diet and exercise, even sleep patterns could be at work here. Another source of between-subject variation is certainly genetic.

The authors observe that “[m]ost interesting biomarkers are involved in metabolic pathways, as well as those related to inflammation and oxidative stress.” This is where my quite minor complaint with the work arises – I would have liked to see more interpretation of the results from a biological or even medical perspective. Thus, I note that IL10, IL1B, TNF, SERPINE1, INS and CCL2 respond to extended fasting and are members of the Insulin resistance inflammation network (Olefsky, Glass (2010) in a review of Macrophages, Inflammation and Insulin Resistance (Annu Rev Physiol 72:219-46)). Furthermore, VCAM1, APCS, CRP, IL1B, TNF, IL18 and CCL2 are assigned an inflammation role within the set of PPARA target genes (Rakhshandehroo, Kersten 2010 PPAR Research pii: 612089).

A second comparison I undertook was to look at the number of genes responding to the fasting intervention and to an intervention termed AIDM: Anti-inflammatory dietary mix (Bakker, et al 2010 Am J Clin Nutr 91:1044). Large-scale assays of genes, proteins, and metabolites in plasma, urine, and adipose tissue showed that an intervention with selected dietary components influenced inflammatory processes, oxidative stress and metabolism in humans. Eight genes are in common and we’d expect about one by chance. These eight genes are FABP3, VCAM1, IL12A, AFP, FTH1, IL18, APOA1 and F7. Most of these eight were described in the AIDM article as down-regulated (lower levels) in plasma by the dietary intervention, similar to the response to fasting. This raises the intriguing hypothesis that the AIDM diet at least partially mimics fasting.

Adipokines are signaling proteins that are secreted from adipocytes. It is an interesting observation, then, that four of the altered proteins seen during fasting are described by Rosenow, et al as adipokines. These are SERPINE1, SERPINF1, C3 and TIMP1. Perhaps fasting-induced changes to the signaling potential of adipose tissue should focus on these four proteins.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

POTW: January, 2012 choices

Three papers published last month that I found to be of interest are listed here. These are:

The mystery of missing heritability: Genetic interactions create phantom heritability, by Zuk, et al. This addresses the missing heritability question, suggesting that "the total heritability may be much smaller and thus the proportion of heritability explained much larger."

Characterisation and discovery of novel miRNAs and moRNAs in JAK2V617F mutated SET2 cells, by Botoluzzi, et al. What interested me in this article was the generation of novel microRNAs that were induced by the cancerous state triggered by this JAK2 variant. This indicates to me that the microRNA realm is broad and rich with many as yet undiscovered relationships.

The PLoS One paper entitled "Genetic signatures of exceptional longevity in humans," by Sebastiani, et al. We here were very curious how this was different from the version retracted from Science and what findings are now reported. TOMM40 near APOE is indeed interesting.

Paper of the Week: cis-eQTL between normal and cancer tissue

My choice for Paper of the Week this week is "cis-Expression QTL Analysis of Established Colorectal Cancer Risk Variants in Colon Tumors and Adjacent Normal Tissue," by Loo, Cheng, Tiirikainen, Lum-Jones, Seifried, et al. (2012) appearing in PLoS One.

I find this article of interest because I feel that many GWAS hits for disease risk will serve to alter expression of a near or distant gene(s) in an allele-specific manner. This group looked at gene expression differences between tissues that were either colorectal tumors or their paired, adjacent normal tissue, and then associated those gene expression differences with allelic variation. Assaying 40 individuals was sufficient to identify 3 SNPs affecting expression of 4 genes: ATP5C1, DLGAP5, NOL3 and DDX28.

A link to this paper is here.

Loo LWM, Cheng I, Tiirikainen M, Lum-Jones A, Seifried A, et al. (2012) cis-Expression QTL Analysis of Established Colorectal Cancer Risk Variants in Colon Tumors and Adjacent Normal Tissue. PLoS ONE 7(2): e30477.