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Mutat Res. 2008 Jul-Aug;659(1-2):147-57. doi: 10.1016/j.mrrev.2008.05.001. Epub 2008 May 4.

Discovery and verification of functional single nucleotide polymorphisms in regulatory genomic regions: current and developing technologies.

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  • 1Environmental Genomics Section, Laboratory of Molecular Genetics, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institute of Health, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, United States.

Abstract

The most common form of genetic variation, single nucleotide polymorphisms or SNPs, can affect the way an individual responds to the environment and modify disease risk. Although most of the millions of SNPs have little or no effect on gene regulation and protein activity, there are many circumstances where base changes can have deleterious effects. Non-synonymous SNPs that result in amino acid changes in proteins have been studied because of their obvious impact on protein activity. It is well known that SNPs within regulatory regions of the genome can result in disregulation of gene transcription. However, the impact of SNPs located in putative regulatory regions, or rSNPs, is harder to predict for two primary reasons. First, the mechanistic roles of non-coding genomic sequence remain poorly defined. Second, experimental validation of the functional consequences of rSNPs is often slow and laborious. In this review, we summarize traditional and novel methodologies for candidate rSNPs selection, in particular in silico techniques that aid in candidate rSNP selection. Additionally we will discuss molecular biological techniques that assess the impact of rSNPs on binding of regulatory machinery, as well as functional consequences on transcription. Standard techniques such as EMSA and luciferase reporter constructs are still widely used to assess effects of rSNPs on binding and gene transcription; however, these protocols are often bottlenecks in the discovery process. Therefore, we highlight novel and developing high-throughput protocols that promise to aid in shortening the process of rSNP validation. Given the large amount of genomic information generated from a multitude of re-sequencing and genome-wide SNP array efforts, future focus should be to develop validation techniques that will allow greater understanding of the impact these polymorphisms have on human health and disease.

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