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Gastroenterology. 2013 May;144(5):1107-1115.e3. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2013.01.022. Epub 2013 Jan 18.

Evidence from human and zebrafish that GPC1 is a biliary atresia susceptibility gene.

Author information

1
Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND & AIMS:

Biliary atresia (BA) is a progressive fibroinflammatory disorder of infants involving the extrahepatic and intrahepatic biliary tree. Its etiology is unclear but is believed to involve exposure of a genetically susceptible individual to certain environmental factors. BA occurs exclusively in the neonatal liver, so variants of genes expressed during hepatobiliary development could affect susceptibility. Genome-wide association studies previously identified a potential region of interest at 2q37. We continued these studies to narrow the region and identify BA susceptibility genes.

METHODS:

We searched for copy number variants that were increased among patients with BA (n = 61) compared with healthy individuals (controls; n = 5088). After identifying a candidate gene, we investigated expression patterns of orthologues in zebrafish liver and the effects of reducing expression, with morpholino antisense oligonucleotides, on biliary development, gene expression, and signal transduction.

RESULTS:

We observed a statistically significant increase in deletions at 2q37.3 in patients with BA that resulted in deletion of one copy of GPC1, which encodes glypican 1, a heparan sulfate proteoglycan that regulates Hedgehog signaling and inflammation. Knockdown of gpc1 in zebrafish led to developmental biliary defects. Exposure of the gpc1 morphants to cyclopamine, a Hedgehog antagonist, partially rescued the gpc1-knockdown phenotype. Injection of zebrafish with recombinant Sonic Hedgehog led to biliary defects similar to those of the gpc1 morphants. Liver samples from patients with BA had reduced levels of apical GPC1 in cholangiocytes compared with samples from controls.

CONCLUSIONS:

Based on genetic analysis of patients with BA and zebrafish, GPC1 appears to be a BA susceptibility gene. These findings also support a role for Hedgehog signaling in the pathogenesis of BA.

Comment in

PMID:
23336978
PMCID:
PMC3736559
DOI:
10.1053/j.gastro.2013.01.022
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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