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1.  LRRTM3 Interacts with APP and BACE1 and Has Variants Associating with Late-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease (LOAD) 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e64164.
Leucine rich repeat transmembrane protein 3 (LRRTM3) is member of a synaptic protein family. LRRTM3 is a nested gene within α-T catenin (CTNNA3) and resides at the linkage peak for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (LOAD) risk and plasma amyloid β (Aβ) levels. In-vitro knock-down of LRRTM3 was previously shown to decrease secreted Aβ, although the mechanism of this is unclear. In SH-SY5Y cells overexpressing APP and transiently transfected with LRRTM3 alone or with BACE1, we showed that LRRTM3 co-localizes with both APP and BACE1 in early endosomes, where BACE1 processing of APP occurs. Additionally, LRRTM3 co-localizes with APP in primary neuronal cultures from Tg2576 mice transduced with LRRTM3-expressing adeno-associated virus. Moreover, LRRTM3 co-immunoprecipitates with both endogenous APP and overexpressed BACE1, in HEK293T cells transfected with LRRTM3. SH-SY5Y cells with knock-down of LRRTM3 had lower BACE1 and higher CTNNA3 mRNA levels, but no change in APP. Brain mRNA levels of LRRTM3 showed significant correlations with BACE1, CTNNA3 and APP in ∼400 humans, but not in LRRTM3 knock-out mice. Finally, we assessed 69 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within and flanking LRRTM3 in 1,567 LOADs and 2,082 controls and identified 8 SNPs within a linkage disequilibrium block encompassing 5′UTR-Intron 1 of LRRTM3 that formed multilocus genotypes (MLG) with suggestive global association with LOAD risk (p = 0.06), and significant individual MLGs. These 8 SNPs were genotyped in an independent series (1,258 LOADs and 718 controls) and had significant global and individual MLG associations in the combined dataset (p = 0.02–0.05). Collectively, these results suggest that protein interactions between LRRTM3, APP and BACE1, as well as complex associations between mRNA levels of LRRTM3, CTNNA3, APP and BACE1 in humans might influence APP metabolism and ultimately risk of AD.
PMCID: PMC3672107  PMID: 23750206
2.  An association analysis of Alzheimer disease candidate genes detects an ancestral risk haplotype clade in ACE and putative multilocus association between ACE, A2M, and LRRTM3 
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common form of progressive dementia in the elderly. It is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by the neuropathologic findings of intracellular neurofibrillary tangles and extracellular amyloid plaques that accumulate in vulnerable brain regions. AD etiology has been studied by many groups, but since the discovery of the APOE ε4 allele, no further genes have been mapped conclusively to the late-onset form of the disease. In this study, we examined genetic association with late-onset Alzheimer’s susceptibility in 738 Caucasian families with 4704 individuals and an independent case-control dataset with 296 unrelated cases and 566 unrelated controls exploring 11 candidate genes with 47 SNPs common to both samples. In addition to tests for main effects and haplotype analyses, the Multifactor Dimensionality Reduction Pedigree Disequilibrium Test (MDR-PDT) was used to search for single-locus effects as well as 2-locus and 3-locus gene-gene interactions associated with AD in the family data. We observed significant haplotype effects in ACE in both family and case-control samples using standard and cladistic haplotype models. ACE was also part of significant 2-locus and 3-locus MDR-PDT joint effects models with Alpha-2-Macroglobulin (A2M), which mediates the clearance of Aβ, and Leucine-Rich Repeat Transmembrane 3 (LRRTM3), a nested gene in Alpha-3 Catenin (CTNNA3) which binds Presenilin 1. This result did not replicate in the case-control sample, and may not be a true positive. These genes are related to amyloid beta clearance; thus this constellation of effects might constitute an axis of susceptibility for late-onset AD. The consistent ACE haplotype result between independent data sets of families and unrelated cases and controls is strong evidence in favor of ACE as a susceptibility locus for AD, and replicates results from several other studies in a very large sample.
PMCID: PMC2821734  PMID: 19105203
Alzheimer’s disease; complex disease; epistasis; Multifactor Dimensionality Reduction; MDR-PDT
3.  Confronting Complexity in Late-Onset Alzheimer Disease: Application of Two-Stage Analysis Approach Addressing Heterogeneity and Epistasis 
Genetic epidemiology  2008;32(3):187-203.
Common diseases with a genetic basis are likely to have a very complex etiology, in which the mapping between genotype and phenotype is far from straightforward. A new comprehensive statistical and computational strategy for identifying the missing link between genotype and phenotype has been proposed, which emphasizes the need to address heterogeneity in the first stage of any analysis and gene-gene interactions in the second stage. We applied this two-stage analysis strategy to late-onset Alzheimer disease (LOAD) data, which included functional and positional candidate genes and markers in a region of interest on chromosome 10. Bayesian Classification found statistically significant clusterings for independent family-based and case-control datasets, which used the same five markers in LRRTM3 as the most influential in determining cluster assignment. In subsequent analyses to detect main effects and gene-gene interactions, markers in three genes—PLAU, ACE and CDC2—were found to be associated with late-onset Alzheimer disease in particular subsets of the data based on their LRRTM3 multilocus genotype. All of these genes are viable candidates for LOAD based on their known biological function, even though PLAU, CDC2 and LRRTM3 were initially identified as positional candidates. Further studies are needed to replicate these statistical findings and to elucidate possible biological interaction mechanisms between LRRTM3 and these genes.
PMCID: PMC2804868  PMID: 18076107
Alzheimer Disease; complex disease; statistical genetics; heterogeneity; gene-gene interaction; epistasis; linkage; association; multifactor dimensionality reduction; logistic regression; clustering; Bayesian classification
4.  Polymorphisms in leucine-rich repeat genes are associated with autism spectrum disorder susceptibility in populations of European ancestry 
Molecular Autism  2010;1:7.
Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a group of highly heritable neurodevelopmental disorders which are characteristically comprised of impairments in social interaction, communication and restricted interests/behaviours. Several cell adhesion transmembrane leucine-rich repeat (LRR) proteins are highly expressed in the nervous system and are thought to be key regulators of its development. Here we present an association study analysing the roles of four promising candidate genes - LRRTM1 (2p), LRRTM3 (10q), LRRN1 (3p) and LRRN3 (7q) - in order to identify common genetic risk factors underlying ASDs.
In order to gain a better understanding of how the genetic variation within these four gene regions may influence susceptibility to ASDs, a family-based association study was undertaken in 661 families of European ancestry selected from four different ASD cohorts. In addition, a case-control study was undertaken across the four LRR genes, using logistic regression in probands with ASD of each population against 295 ECACC controls.
Significant results were found for LRRN3 and LRRTM3 (P < 0.005), using both single locus and haplotype approaches. These results were further supported by a case-control analysis, which also highlighted additional SNPs in LRRTM3.
Overall, our findings implicate the neuronal leucine-rich genes LRRN3 and LRRTM3 in ASD susceptibility.
PMCID: PMC2913944  PMID: 20678249
5.  Origin and Loss of Nested LRRTM/α-Catenin Genes during Vertebrate Evolution 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89910.
Leucine-rich repeat transmembrane neuronal proteins (LRRTMs) form in mammals a family of four postsynaptic adhesion proteins, which have been shown to bind neurexins and heparan sulphate proteoglycan (HSPG) glypican on the presynaptic side. Mutations in the genes encoding LRRTMs and neurexins are implicated in human cognitive disorders such as schizophrenia and autism. Our analysis shows that in most jawed vertebrates, lrrtm1, lrrtm2, and lrrtm3 genes are nested on opposite strands of large conserved intron of α-catenin genes ctnna2, ctnna1, and ctnna3, respectively. No lrrtm genes could be found in tunicates or lancelets, while two lrrtm genes are found in the lamprey genome, one of which is adjacent to a single ctnna homolog. Based on similar highly positive net charge of lamprey LRRTMs and the HSPG-binding LRRTM3 and LRRTM4 proteins, we speculate that the ancestral LRRTM might have bound HSPG before acquiring neurexins as binding partners. Our model suggests that lrrtm gene translocated into the large ctnna intron in early vertebrates, and that subsequent duplications resulted in three lrrtm/ctnna gene pairs present in most jawed vertebrates. However, we detected three prominent exceptions: (1) the lrrtm3/ctnna3 gene structure is absent in the ray-finned fish genomes, (2) the genomes of clawed frogs contain ctnna1 but lack the corresponding nested (lrrtm2) gene, and (3) contain lrrtm3 gene in the syntenic position but lack the corresponding host (ctnna3) gene. We identified several other protein-coding nested gene structures of which either the host or the nested gene has presumably been lost in the frog or chicken lineages. Interestingly, majority of these nested genes comprise LRR domains.
PMCID: PMC3933685  PMID: 24587117
6.  APP interacts with LRP4 and agrin to coordinate the development of the neuromuscular junction in mice 
eLife  2013;2:e00220.
ApoE, ApoE receptors and APP cooperate in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease. Intriguingly, the ApoE receptor LRP4 and APP are also required for normal formation and function of the neuromuscular junction (NMJ). In this study, we show that APP interacts with LRP4, an obligate co-receptor for muscle-specific tyrosine kinase (MuSK). Agrin, a ligand for LRP4, also binds to APP and co-operatively enhances the interaction of APP with LRP4. In cultured myotubes, APP synergistically increases agrin-induced acetylcholine receptor (AChR) clustering. Deletion of the transmembrane domain of LRP4 (LRP4 ECD) results in growth retardation of the NMJ, and these defects are markedly enhanced in APP−/−;LRP4ECD/ECD mice. Double mutant NMJs are significantly reduced in size and number, resulting in perinatal lethality. Our findings reveal novel roles for APP in regulating neuromuscular synapse formation through hetero-oligomeric interaction with LRP4 and agrin and thereby provide new insights into the molecular mechanisms that govern NMJ formation and maintenance.
eLife digest
One of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease is the formation of plaques in the brain by a protein called β-amyloid. This protein is generated by the cleavage of a precursor protein, and mutations in the gene that encodes amyloid precursor protein greatly increase the risk of developing a familial, early-onset form of Alzheimer’s disease in middle age. Individuals with a particular variant of a lipoprotein called ApoE (ApoE4) are also more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease at a younger age than the rest of the population. Due to its prevalence—approximately 20% of the world’s population are carriers of at least one allele—ApoE4 is the single-most important risk factor for the late-onset form of Alzheimer’s disease.
Amyloid precursor protein and the receptors for ApoE—in particular one called LRP4—are also essential for the development of the specialized synapse that forms between motor neurons and muscles. However, the mechanisms by which they, individually or together, contribute to the formation of these neuromuscular junctions are incompletely understood.
Now, Choi et al. have shown that amyloid precursor protein and LRP4 interact at the developing neuromuscular junction. A protein called agrin, which is produced by motor neurons and which must bind to LRP4 to induce neuromuscular junction formation, also binds directly to amyloid precursor protein. This latter interaction leads to the formation of a complex between LRP4 and amyloid precursor protein that robustly promotes the formation of the neuromuscular junction. Mutations that remove the part of LRP4 that anchors it to the cell membrane weaken this complex and thus reduce the development of neuromuscular junctions in mice, especially if the animals also lack amyloid precursor protein.
These three proteins thus seem to influence the development and maintenance of neuromuscular junctions by regulating the activity of a fourth protein, called MuSK, which is present on the surface of muscle cells. Activation of MuSK by agrin bound to LRP4 promotes the clustering of acetylcholine receptors in the membrane, which is a crucial step in the formation of the neuromuscular junction. Intriguingly, Choi et al. have now shown that amyloid precursor protein can, by interacting directly with LRP4, also activate MuSK even in the absence of agrin, albeit only to a small extent.
The work of Choi et al. suggests that the complex formed between agrin, amyloid precursor protein and LRP4 helps to focus the activation of MuSK, and thus the clustering of acetylcholine receptors, to the site of the developing neuromuscular junction. Since all four proteins are also found in the central nervous system, similar processes might well be at work during the development and maintenance of synapses in the brain. Further studies of these interactions, both at the neuromuscular junction and in the brain, should shed new light on both normal synapse formation and the synaptic dysfunction that is seen in Alzheimer’s disease.
PMCID: PMC3748711  PMID: 23986861
neuromuscular synapse; neurodegeneration; nervous system development; Alzheimer's disease; LRP; ApoE; Mouse
7.  LRRTMs and Neuroligins Bind Neurexins with a Differential Code to Cooperate in Glutamate Synapse Development 
Leucine rich repeat transmembrane neuronal proteins (LRRTMs) were recently found to instruct presynaptic and mediate postsynaptic glutamatergic differentiation. In a candidate screen, here we identify neurexin 1β lacking an insert at splice site 4 (−S4) as a ligand for LRRTM2. Neurexins bind LRRTM2 with a similar affinity but distinct code from the code for binding neuroligin-1 (the predominant form of neuroligin-1 at glutamate synapses, containing the B splice site insert). Whereas neuroligin-1 binds to neurexin 1, 2 and 3 β but not α variants regardless of insert at splice site 4, LRRTM2 binds to neurexin 1, 2 and 3 α and β variants specifically lacking an insert at splice site 4. We further show that this binding code is conserved in LRRTM1, the family member linked to schizophrenia and handedness, and that the code is functional in a co-culture hemi-synapse formation assay. Mutagenesis of LRRTM2 to prevent binding to neurexins abolishes presynaptic inducing activity of LRRTMs. Remarkably, mutagenesis of neurexins shows that the binding face on neurexin1β(−S4) is highly overlapping for the structurally distinct LRRTM2 and neuroligin-1 partners. Finally, we explore here the interplay of neuroligin-1 and LRRTM2 in synapse regulation. In neuron cultures, LRRTM2 is more potent than neuroligin-1 in promoting synaptic differentiation, and, most importantly, these two families of neurexin-binding partners cooperate in an additive or synergistic manner. Thus we propose a synaptic code hypothesis suggesting that neurexins are master regulators of the cooperative activities of LRRTMs and neuroligins.
PMCID: PMC2896269  PMID: 20519524
synaptogenesis; postsynaptic; presynaptic; adhesion; hippocampus; culture
8.  Genetic Predisposition to Increased Blood Cholesterol and Triglyceride Lipid Levels and Risk of Alzheimer Disease: A Mendelian Randomization Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(9):e1001713.
In this study, Proitsi and colleagues use a Mendelian randomization approach to dissect the causal nature of the association between circulating lipid levels and late onset Alzheimer's Disease (LOAD) and find that genetic predisposition to increased plasma cholesterol and triglyceride lipid levels is not associated with elevated LOAD risk.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Although altered lipid metabolism has been extensively implicated in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer disease (AD) through cell biological, epidemiological, and genetic studies, the molecular mechanisms linking cholesterol and AD pathology are still not well understood and contradictory results have been reported. We have used a Mendelian randomization approach to dissect the causal nature of the association between circulating lipid levels and late onset AD (LOAD) and test the hypothesis that genetically raised lipid levels increase the risk of LOAD.
Methods and Findings
We included 3,914 patients with LOAD, 1,675 older individuals without LOAD, and 4,989 individuals from the general population from six genome wide studies drawn from a white population (total n = 10,578). We constructed weighted genotype risk scores (GRSs) for four blood lipid phenotypes (high-density lipoprotein cholesterol [HDL-c], low-density lipoprotein cholesterol [LDL-c], triglycerides, and total cholesterol) using well-established SNPs in 157 loci for blood lipids reported by Willer and colleagues (2013). Both full GRSs using all SNPs associated with each trait at p<5×10−8 and trait specific scores using SNPs associated exclusively with each trait at p<5×10−8 were developed. We used logistic regression to investigate whether the GRSs were associated with LOAD in each study and results were combined together by meta-analysis. We found no association between any of the full GRSs and LOAD (meta-analysis results: odds ratio [OR] = 1.005, 95% CI 0.82–1.24, p = 0.962 per 1 unit increase in HDL-c; OR = 0.901, 95% CI 0.65–1.25, p = 0.530 per 1 unit increase in LDL-c; OR = 1.104, 95% CI 0.89–1.37, p = 0.362 per 1 unit increase in triglycerides; and OR = 0.954, 95% CI 0.76–1.21, p = 0.688 per 1 unit increase in total cholesterol). Results for the trait specific scores were similar; however, the trait specific scores explained much smaller phenotypic variance.
Genetic predisposition to increased blood cholesterol and triglyceride lipid levels is not associated with elevated LOAD risk. The observed epidemiological associations between abnormal lipid levels and LOAD risk could therefore be attributed to the result of biological pleiotropy or could be secondary to LOAD. Limitations of this study include the small proportion of lipid variance explained by the GRS, biases in case-control ascertainment, and the limitations implicit to Mendelian randomization studies. Future studies should focus on larger LOAD datasets with longitudinal sampled peripheral lipid measures and other markers of lipid metabolism, which have been shown to be altered in LOAD.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Currently, about 44 million people worldwide have dementia, a group of brain disorders characterized by an irreversible decline in memory, communication, and other “cognitive” functions. Dementia mainly affects older people and, because people are living longer, experts estimate that more than 135 million people will have dementia by 2050. The commonest form of dementia is Alzheimer disease. In this type of dementia, protein clumps called plaques and neurofibrillary tangles form in the brain and cause its degeneration. The earliest sign of Alzheimer disease is usually increasing forgetfulness. As the disease progresses, affected individuals gradually lose their ability to deal with normal daily activities such as dressing. They may become anxious or aggressive or begin to wander. They may also eventually lose control of their bladder and of other physical functions. At present, there is no cure for Alzheimer disease although some of its symptoms can be managed with drugs. Most people with the disease are initially cared for at home by relatives and other unpaid carers, but many patients end their days in a care home or specialist nursing home.
Why Was This Study Done?
Several lines of evidence suggest that lipid metabolism (how the body handles cholesterol and other fats) is altered in patients whose Alzheimer disease develops after the age of 60 years (late onset Alzheimer disease, LOAD). In particular, epidemiological studies (observational investigations that examine the patterns and causes of disease in populations) have found an association between high amounts of cholesterol in the blood in midlife and the risk of LOAD. However, observational studies cannot prove that abnormal lipid metabolism (dyslipidemia) causes LOAD. People with dyslipidemia may share other characteristics that cause both dyslipidemia and LOAD (confounding) or LOAD might actually cause dyslipidemia (reverse causation). Here, the researchers use “Mendelian randomization” to examine whether lifetime changes in lipid metabolism caused by genes have a causal impact on LOAD risk. In Mendelian randomization, causality is inferred from associations between genetic variants that mimic the effect of a modifiable risk factor and the outcome of interest. Because gene variants are inherited randomly, they are not prone to confounding and are free from reverse causation. So, if dyslipidemia causes LOAD, genetic variants that affect lipid metabolism should be associated with an altered risk of LOAD.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers investigated whether genetic predisposition to raised lipid levels increased the risk of LOAD in 10,578 participants (3,914 patients with LOAD, 1,675 elderly people without LOAD, and 4,989 population controls) using data collected in six genome wide studies looking for gene variants associated with Alzheimer disease. The researchers constructed a genotype risk score (GRS) for each participant using genetic risk markers for four types of blood lipids on the basis of the presence of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs, a type of gene variant) in their DNA. When the researchers used statistical methods to investigate the association between the GRS and LOAD among all the study participants, they found no association between the GRS and LOAD.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that the genetic predisposition to raised blood levels of four types of lipid is not causally associated with LOAD risk. The accuracy of this finding may be affected by several limitations of this study, including the small proportion of lipid variance explained by the GRS and the validity of several assumptions that underlie all Mendelian randomization studies. Moreover, because all the participants in this study were white, these findings may not apply to people of other ethnic backgrounds. Given their findings, the researchers suggest that the observed epidemiological associations between abnormal lipid levels in the blood and variation in lipid levels for reasons other than genetics, or to LOAD risk could be secondary to variation in lipid levels for reasons other than genetics, or to LOAD, a possibility that can be investigated by studying blood lipid levels and other markers of lipid metabolism over time in large groups of patients with LOAD. Importantly, however, these findings provide new information about the role of lipids in LOAD development that may eventually lead to new therapeutic and public-health interventions for Alzheimer disease.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information (including personal stories) about Alzheimer's disease
The UK not-for-profit organization Alzheimer's Society provides information for patients and carers about dementia, including personal experiences of living with Alzheimer's disease
The US not-for-profit organization Alzheimer's Association also provides information for patients and carers about dementia and personal stories about dementia
Alzheimer's Disease International is the international federation of Alzheimer disease associations around the world; it provides links to individual associations, information about dementia, and links to World Alzheimer Reports
MedlinePlus provides links to additional resources about Alzheimer's disease (in English and Spanish)
Wikipedia has a page on Mendelian randomization (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
PMCID: PMC4165594  PMID: 25226301
9.  LRRTM1-deficient mice show a rare phenotype of avoiding small enclosures—A tentative mouse model for claustrophobia-like behaviour 
Behavioural brain research  2012;238:69-78.
The LRRTM family proteins have been shown to act as synaptogenic cell adhesion molecules via interaction with presynaptic neurexins and are associated with neuropsychiatric disorders. LRRTM1-knockout mice have subtle morphological deficits in excitatory hippocampal synapses and were suggested to have impaired cognitive function. Here we report that LRRTM1-knockout mice exhibit an extraordinary phenotype of avoiding small enclosures. In the light–dark box, the knockout mice escape to dark through a standard opening as quickly as wild-type littermates but avoid escaping through a small doorway. While all wild-type mice spontaneously enter a small tube, most knockout mice do not. This apparent aversion to enter narrow space may explain other abnormalities such as increased time in open arms in the elevated plus maze and less visits through a tunnel in the IntelliCage. Moreover, LRRTM1-knockout mice show increased social interaction, reduced nest building and MK801-induced locomotion, and slower swim speed but normal water maze learning. Since LRRTM1 is predominantly expressed in thalamus, hippocampus and limbic cortex, specific synaptic defects in those areas presumably cause these behavioural abnormalities.
PMCID: PMC3784023  PMID: 23089646
Anxiety; Leucine-rich repeat; Neurexin; Species-typical behaviour; Social interaction; Claustrophobia
10.  Age-at-Onset in Late Onset Alzheimer Disease is Modified by Multiple Genetic Loci 
JAMA neurology  2014;71(11):1394-1404.
As APOE locus variants contribute to both risk of late-onset Alzheimer disease and differences in age-at-onset, it is important to know if other established late-onset Alzheimer disease risk loci also affect age-at-onset in cases.
To investigate the effects of known Alzheimer disease risk loci in modifying age-at-onset, and to estimate their cumulative effect on age-at-onset variation, using data from genome-wide association studies in the Alzheimer’s Disease Genetics Consortium (ADGC).
Design, Setting and Participants
The ADGC comprises 14 case-control, prospective, and family-based datasets with data on 9,162 Caucasian participants with Alzheimer’s occurring after age 60 who also had complete age-at-onset information, gathered between 1989 and 2011 at multiple sites by participating studies. Data on genotyped or imputed single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) most significantly associated with risk at ten confirmed LOAD loci were examined in linear modeling of AAO, and individual dataset results were combined using a random effects, inverse variance-weighted meta-analysis approach to determine if they contribute to variation in age-at-onset. Aggregate effects of all risk loci on AAO were examined in a burden analysis using genotype scores weighted by risk effect sizes.
Main Outcomes and Measures
Age at disease onset abstracted from medical records among participants with late-onset Alzheimer disease diagnosed per standard criteria.
Analysis confirmed association of APOE with age-at-onset (rs6857, P=3.30×10−96), with associations in CR1 (rs6701713, P=7.17×10−4), BIN1 (rs7561528, P=4.78×10−4), and PICALM (rs561655, P=2.23×10−3) reaching statistical significance (P<0.005). Risk alleles individually reduced age-at-onset by 3-6 months. Burden analyses demonstrated that APOE contributes to 3.9% of variation in age-at-onset (R2=0.220) over baseline (R2=0.189) whereas the other nine loci together contribute to 1.1% of variation (R2=0.198).
Conclusions and Relevance
We confirmed association of APOE variants with age-at-onset among late-onset Alzheimer disease cases and observed novel associations with age-at-onset in CR1, BIN1, and PICALM. In contrast to earlier hypothetical modeling, we show that the combined effects of Alzheimer disease risk variants on age-at-onset are on the scale of, but do not exceed, the APOE effect. While the aggregate effects of risk loci on age-at-onset may be significant, additional genetic contributions to age-at-onset are individually likely to be small.
PMCID: PMC4314944  PMID: 25199842
Alzheimer Disease; Alzheimer Disease Genetics; Alzheimer’s Disease - Pathophysiology; Genetics of Alzheimer Disease; Aging
11.  The Neuronal Sortilin-Related Receptor Gene SORL1 and Late-Onset Alzheimer's Disease 
Recent studies indicate that two clusters of single nucleotide polymorphisms in the neuronal sortilin-related receptor gene (SORL1) are causally associated with late-onset Alzheimer's disease (AD). At the cellular level, SORL1 is thought to be involved in intracellular trafficking of amyloid precursor protein. When this gene is suppressed, toxic amyloid β production is increased, and high levels of amyloid β are associated with a higher AD risk. Extending the cellular findings, gene expression studies show that SORL1 is differentially expressed in AD patients compared with controls. Furthermore, several genetic studies have identified allelic and haplotypic SORL1 variants associated with late-onset AD, and these variants confer small to modest risk of AD. Taken together, the evidence for SORL1 as a causative gene is compelling. However, putative variants have not yet been identified. Further research is necessary to determine its utility as a diagnostic marker of AD or as a target for new therapeutic approaches.
PMCID: PMC2694663  PMID: 18713574
12.  APOE and A-betaPP Gene Variation in Cortical and Cerebrovascular Amyloid-beta Pathology and Alzheimer’s Disease: A Population-Based Analysis 
Cortical and cerebrovascular amyloid-beta (A-beta) deposition is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), but also occurs in elderly people not affected by dementia. The apolipoprotein E (APOE) epsilon4 is a major genetic modulator of A-beta deposition and AD risk. Variants of the amyloid-beta protein precursor (A-betaPP) gene have been reported to contribute to AD and cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA). We analyzed the role of APOE and A-beta PP variants in cortical and cerebrovascular A-beta deposition, and neuropathologically verified AD (based on modified NIA-RI criteria) in a population-based autopsy sample of Finns aged ≥85 years (Vantaa85 + Study; n = 282). Our updated analysis of APOE showed strong associations of the epsilon4 allele with cortical (p = 4.91×10−17) and cerebrovascular (p = 9.87×10−11) A-beta deposition as well as with NIA-RI AD (p = 1.62×10−8). We also analyzed 60 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) at the A-betaPP locus. In single SNP or haplotype analyses there were no statistically significant A-betaPP locus associations with cortical or cerebrovascular A-beta deposition or with NIA-RI AD. We sequenced the promoter of the A-betaPP gene in 40 subjects with very high A-beta deposition, but none of these subjects had any of the previously reported or novel AD-associated mutations. These results suggest that cortical and cerebrovascular A-beta depositions are useful quantitative traits for genetic studies, as highlighted by the strong associations with the APOE epsilon4 variant. Promoter mutations or common allelic variation in the A-betaPP gene do not have a major contribution to cortical or cerebrovascular A-beta deposition, or very late-onset AD in this Finnish population based study.
PMCID: PMC3516850  PMID: 21654062
13.  Elevated Serum Pesticide Levels and Risk for Alzheimer Disease 
JAMA neurology  2014;71(3):284-290.
The causes of late-onset Alzheimer disease (AD) are not yet understood but likely include a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. Limited epidemiological studies suggest that occupational pesticide exposures are associated with AD. Previously, we reported that serum levels of dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE), the metabolite of the pesticide dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), were elevated in a small number of patients with AD (n=20).
To evaluate the association between serum levels of DDE and AD and whether the apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotype modifies the association.
A case-control study consisting of existing samples from patients with AD and control participants from the Emory University Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School’s Alzheimer’s Disease Center. Serum levels of DDE were measured in 79 control and 86 AD cases.
Serum DDE levels, AD diagnosis, severity of AD measured by the Mini-Mental State Examination score, and interaction with APOE4 status.
Levels of DDE were 3.8-fold higher in the serum of those with AD (mean [SEM], 2.64 [0.35] ng/mg cholesterol) when compared with control participants (mean [SEM], 0.69 [0.1] ng/mg cholesterol; P < .001). The highest tertile of DDE levels was associated with an odds ratio of 4.18 for increased risk for AD (95% CI, 2.54–5.82; P < .001) and lower Mini-Mental State Examination scores (−1.605; range, −3.095 to −0.114; P < .0001). The Mini-Mental State Examination scores in the highest tertile of DDE were −1.753 points lower in the subpopulation carrying an APOE ε4 allele compared with those carrying an APOE ε3 allele (P interaction = .04). Serum levels of DDE were highly correlated with brain levels of DDE (ρ = 0.95). Exposure of human neuroblastoma cells to DDT or DDE increased levels of amyloid precursor protein.
Elevated serum DDE levels are associated with an increased risk for AD and carriers of an APOE4 ε4 allele may be more susceptible to the effects of DDE. Both DDT and DDE increase amyloid precursor protein levels, providing mechanistic plausibility for the association of DDE exposure with AD. Identifying people who have elevated levels of DDE and carry an APOE ε4 allele may lead to early identification of some cases of AD.
PMCID: PMC4132934  PMID: 24473795
14.  Neuroligins/LRRTMs prevent activity- and Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent synapse elimination in cultured neurons 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2011;194(2):323-334.
Neuroligins and leucine-rich repeat transmembrane proteins are necessary to prevent activity-dependent elimination of excitatory synapses in cultured neurons, with synapse elimination operating by a Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent pathway.
Neuroligins (NLs) and leucine-rich repeat transmembrane proteins (LRRTMs) are postsynaptic cell adhesion molecules that bind to presynaptic neurexins. In this paper, we show that short hairpin ribonucleic acid–mediated knockdowns (KDs) of LRRTM1, LRRTM2, and/or NL-3, alone or together as double or triple KDs (TKDs) in cultured hippocampal neurons, did not decrease synapse numbers. In neurons cultured from NL-1 knockout mice, however, TKD of LRRTMs and NL-3 induced an ∼40% loss of excitatory but not inhibitory synapses. Strikingly, synapse loss triggered by the LRRTM/NL deficiency was abrogated by chronic blockade of synaptic activity as well as by chronic inhibition of Ca2+ influx or Ca2+/calmodulin (CaM) kinases. Furthermore, postsynaptic KD of CaM prevented synapse loss in a cell-autonomous manner, an effect that was reversed by CaM rescue. Our results suggest that two neurexin ligands, LRRTMs and NLs, act redundantly to maintain excitatory synapses and that synapse elimination caused by the absence of NLs and LRRTMs is promoted by synaptic activity and mediated by a postsynaptic Ca2+/CaM-dependent signaling pathway.
PMCID: PMC3144410  PMID: 21788371
15.  Epistatic Genetic Effects among Alzheimer’s Candidate Genes 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e80839.
Novel risk variants for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (AD) have been identified and replicated in genome-wide association studies. Recent work has begun to address the relationship between these risk variants and biomarkers of AD, though results have been mixed. The aim of the current study was to characterize single marker and epistatic genetic effects between the top candidate Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) in relation to amyloid deposition.
We used a combined dataset across ADNI-1 and ADNI-2, and looked within each dataset separately to validate identified genetic effects. Amyloid was quantified using data acquired by Positron Emission Tomography (PET) with 18F-AV-45.
Two SNP-SNP interactions reached significance when correcting for multiple comparisons, BIN1 (rs7561528, rs744373) x PICALM (rs7851179). Carrying the minor allele in BIN1 was related to higher levels of amyloid deposition, however only in non-carriers of the protective PICALM minor allele.
Our results support previous research suggesting these candidate SNPs do not show single marker associations with amyloid pathology. However, we provide evidence for a novel interaction between PICALM and BIN1 in relation to amyloid deposition. Risk related to the BIN1 minor allele appears to be mitigated in the presence of the PICALM protective variant. In that way, variance in amyloid plaque burden can be better classified within the context of a complex genetic background. Efforts to model cumulative risk for AD should explicitly account for this epistatic effect, and future studies should explicitly test for such effects whenever statistically feasible.
PMCID: PMC3832488  PMID: 24260488
16.  The Association Between Genetic Variants in SORL1 and Alzheimer’s Disease in an Urban, Multiethnic, Community-Based Cohort 
Archives of neurology  2007;64(4):501-506.
Variants in 3′ and 5′ regions of SORL1, the neuronal sorting protein-related receptor, were recently found to be associated with late onset familial and sporadic Alzheimer’s disease in several datasets that were selected for familial aggregation or were ethnically diverse or clinic-based selected series.
To investigate the association between Alzheimer’s disease and variant alleles in SORL1 using a series of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in an urban, multiethnic community-based population.
Design & Setting
We used a nested case-control analysis in a population-based, prospective study of aging and dementia in Medicare recipients, 65 years and older, residing in northern Manhattan.
There were 296 patients with probable Alzheimer’s disease and 428 healthy elderly controls. The participants were of African American (34%), Caribbean Hispanic (51%) or non-Hispanic whites (15%).
Main Outcome Measures
We genotyped all 29 SNPs in SORL1 that were examined in the earlier report. We assessed allelic association with AD using standard case-control methods which included APOE genotype as a covariate.
Several individual SNPs and SNP haplotypes were significantly associated with AD in this prospectively collected community-based cohort, confirming the previously reported positive association of SORL1 with Alzheimer’s disease. SNP 12 near the 5′ region was associated with AD in African-Americans and Hispanics. Two SNPs in the 3′ region were also associated with AD in African-Americans (SNP 26) and Whites (SNP 20). A single haplotype in the 3′ region was associated with AD in Hispanics. However, several different haplotypes were associated with AD in the African-Americans and Whites, including the “TTC” haplotypes at SNPs 23–25 (p=0.035) that was significantly associated with AD in the North European Whites in the previous report.
This study confirms the association between genetic variants in SORL1 and AD. While the associations observed in these datasets overlap with those previously reported, the finding of novel SNP and haplotype associations suggest that there may be extensive allelic heterogeneity in SORL1. Broad regions of the SORL1 gene will therefore need to be scrutinized for functional pathogenic variants.
PMCID: PMC2639214  PMID: 17420311
SORL1; Alzheimer’s disease; sporadic; African American; Caribbean Hispanic
17.  Genetic associations between cathepsin D exon 2 C→T polymorphism and Alzheimer's disease, and pathological correlations with genotype 
Genetic variations represent major risk factors for Alzheimer's disease (AD). While familial early onset AD is associated with mutations in the amyloid precursor protein and presenilin genes, only the e4 allele of the apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene has so far been established as a genetic risk factor for late onset familial and sporadic AD. It has been suggested that the C→T (224Ala→Val) transition within exon 2 of the cathepsin D gene (CTSD) might represent a risk factor for late onset AD. The objective of this study was to investigate whether possession of the CTSD exon 2 T allele increases the risk of developing AD, and to determine whether this modulates the amyloid pathology of the disease in conjunction with, or independent of, the APOE e4 allele. Blood samples were obtained from 412 patients with possible or probable AD and brain tissues from a further 148 patients with AD confirmed by postmortem examination. CTSD and APOE genotyping were performed by PCR on DNA extracted from blood, or from frontal cortex or cerebellum in the postmortem cases. Pathological measures of amyloid β protein (Aβ), as plaque Aβ40 and Aβ42(3) load and degree of cerebral amyloid angiopathy were made by image analysis or semiquantitative rating, respectively. CTSD genotype frequencies in AD were not significantly different from those in control subjects, nor did these differ between cases of early or late onset AD or between younger and older controls. There was no gene interaction between the CTSD T and APOE e4 alleles. The amount of plaque Aβ40 was greater in patients carrying the CTSD T allele than in non‐carriers, and in patients bearing APOE e4 allele compared with non‐carriers. Possession of both these alleles acted synergistically to increase levels of plaque Aβ40, especially in those individuals who were homozygous for the APOE e4 allele. Possession of the CTSD T allele had no effect on plaque Aβ42(3) load or degree of CAA. Possession of the CTSD T allele does not increase the risk of developing AD per se, but has a modulating effect on the pathogenesis of the disorder by increasing, in concert with the APOE e4 allele, the amount of Aβ deposited as senile plaques in the brain in the form of Aβ40.
PMCID: PMC2077521  PMID: 16543533
Alzheimer's disease; cathepsin D gene; apolipoprotein E gene; amyloid β protein; genotype/phenotype correlation
18.  Identification of Novel Loci for Alzheimer Disease and Replication of CLU, PICALM, and BIN1 in Caribbean Hispanic Individuals 
Archives of Neurology  2010;68(3):320-328.
To identify novel loci for late-onset Alzheimer disease (LOAD) in Caribbean Hispanic individuals and to replicate the findings in a publicly available data set from the National Institute on Aging Late-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease Family Study.
Nested case-control genome-wide association study.
The Washington Heights–Inwood Columbia Aging Project and the Estudio Familiar de Influencia Genetica de Alzheimer study.
Five hundred forty-nine affected and 544 unaffected individuals of Caribbean Hispanic ancestry.
The Illumina HumanHap 650Y chip for genotyping.
Main Outcome Measure
Clinical diagnosis or pathologically confirmed diagnosis of LOAD.
The strongest support for allelic association was for rs9945493 on 18q23 (P=1.7 × 10−7), but 22 additional single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) had a P value less than 9 × 10−6 under 3 different analyses: unadjusted and stratified by the presence or absence of the APOE ε4 allele. Of these SNPs, 5 SNPs (rs4669573 and rs10197851 on 2p25.1; rs11711889 on 3q25.2; rs1117750 on 7p21.1; and rs7908652 on 10q23.1) were associated with LOAD in an independent cohort from the National Institute on Aging Late-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease Family Study. We also replicated genetic associations for CLU, PICALM, and BIN1.
Our genome-wide search of Caribbean Hispanic individuals identified several novel genetic variants associated with LOAD and replicated these associations in a white cohort. We also replicated associations in CLU, PICALM, and BIN1 in the Caribbean Hispanic cohort.
PMCID: PMC3268783  PMID: 21059989
19.  Reducing Amyloid Plaque Burden via Ex Vivo Gene Delivery of an Aβ-Degrading Protease: A Novel Therapeutic Approach to Alzheimer Disease 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(8):e262.
Understanding the mechanisms of amyloid-β protein (Aβ) production and clearance in the brain has been essential to elucidating the etiology of Alzheimer disease (AD). Chronically decreasing brain Aβ levels is an emerging therapeutic approach for AD, but no such disease-modifying agents have achieved clinical validation. Certain proteases are responsible for the catabolism of brain Aβ in vivo, and some experimental evidence suggests they could be used as therapeutic tools to reduce Aβ levels in AD. The objective of this study was to determine if enhancing the clearance of Aβ in the brain by ex vivo gene delivery of an Aβ-degrading protease can reduce amyloid plaque burden.
Methods and Findings
We generated a secreted form of the Aβ-degrading protease neprilysin, which significantly lowers the levels of naturally secreted Aβ in cell culture. We then used an ex vivo gene delivery approach utilizing primary fibroblasts to introduce this soluble protease into the brains of β-amyloid precursor protein (APP) transgenic mice with advanced plaque deposition. Brain examination after cell implantation revealed robust clearance of plaques at the site of engraftment (72% reduction, p = 0.0269), as well as significant reductions in plaque burden in both the medial and lateral hippocampus distal to the implantation site (34% reduction, p = 0.0020; and 55% reduction, p = 0.0081, respectively).
Ex vivo gene delivery of an Aβ-degrading protease reduces amyloid plaque burden in transgenic mice expressing human APP. These results support the use of Aβ-degrading proteases as a means to therapeutically lower Aβ levels and encourage further exploration of ex vivo gene delivery for the treatment of Alzheimer disease.
Matthew Hemming and colleagues describe the ex vivo gene delivery of an Aβ-degrading protease that reduces amyloid plaque burden in transgenic mice expressing human amyloid precursor protein.
Editors' Summary
Alzheimer disease is the most common form of dementia and is increasingly common as people age. It may affect up to half of the population in people over 85 years of age. The classic pathological features of Alzheimer disease in the brain were described 100 years ago by a German neuropathologist, Alois Alzheimer. They consist of plaques, which are made up of a protein called amyloid-β protein (shortened to Aβ); and tangles of another protein, called tau. These proteins accumulate especially in areas of the brain where memory and thought are processed and are believed to be toxic to neurons. There are a number of inherited forms of Alzheimer disease which are caused by mutations either in the protein from which Aβ is derived, called beta-amyloid precursor protein (shortened to APP) or in other proteins that act to release the Aβ protein from APP. Research on these inherited forms of Alzheimer disease has helped in the understanding of how plaques accumulate, which has subsequently led to new potential approaches to the treatment of Alzheimer disease such as lowering the production of Aβ from APP or enhancing clearance of the plaques.
Why Was This Study Done?
The researchers here wanted to investigate the use of a type of gene therapy called ex vivo (which means out of body) gene therapy, in which cells are taken from an individual, genetically altered, then put back into the individual they were taken from. This approach has already been studied in some human diseases and conditions including hemophilia, cancer, and spinal cord injury. The researchers here wanted to investigate whether they could use this approach to deliver to the brain one of the proteases that breaks down amyloid plaques.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used a mouse model of Alzheimer disease in which, as the mice age, they develop plaques in the brain made of the same protein found in human Alzheimer disease. The researchers took a particular type of cell from the mice called a fibroblast, used a virus called a lentivirus to insert into the cells a protease called neprilysin that can degrade Aβ, and then injected these altered cells into the brains of the mice. They then compared results of these experiments with what happened when cells with a control (an inactive virus) were injected. They found that when the active protease was put into the brains of mice there was a substantial clearing of plaques especially in the areas close to the injection site, compared with the control mice.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These results suggest that this ex vivo gene therapy approach to Alzheimer disease is worth considering further. However, despite showing that the plaques were cleared the researchers did not show whether or not there was any effect on the behavior of the mice, i.e., whether there was any effect on the symptoms that the plaques cause. In addition, before this approach could be used in humans more work would need to be done, including showing that the lentivirus and the protease used were safe in humans, and the injection could be scaled up to the much larger human brain.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The slides from the original cases that Alois Alzheimer described are available online
Current research is discussed by the Alzheimer Research Forum
News and information for researchers, doctors, and patients, including a 24-hour help line, are available from the Alzheimer's Association
Medline Plus, the health information site for patients from the US National Library of Medicine, has a page of links on Alzheimer disease
The US National Institutes of Health National Institute of Aging has a fact sheet on Alzheimer disease, which is also available in Spanish
The UK's National Health Service online information site has information on Alzheimer disease
PMCID: PMC1952204  PMID: 17760499
Neuroscience  2009;164(1):174-190.
Late-onset Alzheimer’s disease is a common complex disorder of old age. Though these types of disorders can be highly heritable, they differ from single-gene (Mendelian) diseases in that their causes are often multifactorial with both genetic and environmental components. Genetic risk factors that have been firmly implicated in the cause are mutations in the amyloid precursor protein (APP), presenilin 1 (PSEN1) and presenilin 2 (PSEN2) genes, which are found in large multi-generational families with an autosomal dominant pattern of disease inheritance, the apolipoprotein E (APOE)ε4 allele and the sortilin-related receptor (SORL1) gene. Environmental factors that have been associated with late-onset Alzheimer’s disease include depressive illness, various vascular risk factors, level of education, head trauma and estrogen replacement therapy. This complexity may help explain their high prevalence from an evolutionary perspective, but the etiologic complexity makes identification of disease-related genes much more difficult. The “endophenotype” approach is an alternative method for measuring phenotypic variation that may facilitate the identification of susceptibility genes for complexly inherited traits. The usefulness of endophenotypes in genetic analyses of normal brain morphology and, in particular for Alzheimer’s disease will be reviewed as will the implications of these findings for models of disease causation. Given that the pathways from genotypes to end-stage phenotypes are circuitous at best, identifying endophenotypes more proximal to the effects of genetic variation may expedite the attempts to link genetic variants to disorders.
PMCID: PMC2812814  PMID: 19362127
21.  No association of SORL1 SNPs with Alzheimer’s disease 
Neuroscience letters  2008;440(2):190-192.
SORL1 is an element of the amyloid precursor protein processing pathway and is therefore a good candidate for affecting Alzheimer’s disease (AD) risk. Indeed, there have been reports of associations between variation in SORL1 and AD risk. We examined six statistically significant single-nucleotide polymorphisms from the initial observation in a large Caucasian American case–controls cohort (1000 late-onset AD [LOAD] cases and 1000 older controls). Analysis of allele, genotype and haplotype frequencies revealed no association with LOAD risk in our cohort.
PMCID: PMC2519047  PMID: 18562096
Alzheimer’s disease; SORL1; genetics
22.  Impaired Cognitive Function and Altered Hippocampal Synapse Morphology in Mice Lacking Lrrtm1, a Gene Associated with Schizophrenia 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(7):e22716.
Recent genetic linkage analysis has shown that LRRTM1 (Leucine rich repeat transmembrane neuronal 1) is associated with schizophrenia. Here, we characterized Lrrtm1 knockout mice behaviorally and morphologically. Systematic behavioral analysis revealed reduced locomotor activity in the early dark phase, altered behavioral responses to novel environments (open-field box, light-dark box, elevated plus maze, and hole board), avoidance of approach to large inanimate objects, social discrimination deficit, and spatial memory deficit. Upon administration of the NMDA receptor antagonist MK-801, Lrrtm1 knockout mice showed both locomotive activities in the open-field box and responses to the inanimate object that were distinct from those of wild-type mice, suggesting that altered glutamatergic transmission underlay the behavioral abnormalities. Furthermore, administration of a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (fluoxetine) rescued the abnormality in the elevated plus maze. Morphologically, the brains of Lrrtm1 knockout mice showed reduction in total hippocampus size and reduced synaptic density. The hippocampal synapses were characterized by elongated spines and diffusely distributed synaptic vesicles, indicating the role of Lrrtm1 in maintaining synaptic integrity. Although the pharmacobehavioral phenotype was not entirely characteristic of those of schizophrenia model animals, the impaired cognitive function may warrant the further study of LRRTM1 in relevance to schizophrenia.
PMCID: PMC3144940  PMID: 21818371
23.  Independent and epistatic effects of variants in VPS10-d receptors on Alzheimer disease risk and processing of the amyloid precursor protein (APP) 
Translational Psychiatry  2013;3(5):e256-.
Genetic variants in the sortilin-related receptor (SORL1) and the sortilin-related vacuolar protein sorting 10 (VPS10) domain-containing receptor 1 (SORCS1) are associated with increased risk of Alzheimer's disease (AD), declining cognitive function and altered amyloid precursor protein (APP) processing. We explored whether other members of the (VPS10) domain-containing receptor protein family (the sortilin-related VPS10 domain-containing receptors 2 and 3 (SORCS2 and SORCS3) and sortilin (SORT1)) would have similar effects either independently or together. We conducted the analyses in a large Caucasian case control data set (n=11 840 cases, 10 931 controls) to determine the associations between single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in all the five homologous genes and AD risk. Evidence for interactions between SNPs in the five VPS10 domain receptor family genes was determined in epistatic statistical models. We also compared expression levels of SORCS2, SORCS3 and SORT1 in AD and control brains using microarray gene expression analyses and assessed the effects of these genes on γ-secretase processing of APP. Several SNPs in SORL1, SORCS1, SORCS2 and SORCS3 were associated with AD. In addition, four specific linkage disequilibrium blocks in SORCS1, SORCS2 and SORCS3 showed additive epistatic effects on the risk of AD (P⩽0.0006). SORCS3, but not SORCS2 or SORT1, showed reduced expression in AD compared with control brains, but knockdown of all the three genes using short hairpin RNAs in HEK293 cells caused a significant threefold increase in APP processing (from P<0.001 to P<0.05). These findings indicate that in addition to SORL1 and SORCS1, variants in other members of the VPS10 domain receptor family (that is, SORCS1, SORCS2, SORCS3) are associated with AD risk and alter APP processing. More importantly, the results indicate that variants within these genes have epistatic effects on AD risk.
PMCID: PMC3669917  PMID: 23673467
Alzheimer's disease; SORCS2; SORCS3; SORT1
24.  Intracellular Clusterin Interacts with Brain Isoforms of the Bridging Integrator 1 and with the Microtubule-Associated Protein Tau in Alzheimer's Disease 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e103187.
Sporadic or late-onset Alzheimer's disease (AD) is expected to affect 50% of individuals reaching 85 years of age. The most significant genetic risk factor for late-onset AD is the e4 allele of APOE gene encoding apolipoprotein E, a lipid carrier shown to modulate brain amyloid burden. Recent genome-wide association studies have uncovered additional single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) linked to AD susceptibility, including those in the CLU and BIN1 genes encoding for clusterin (CLU) and the bridging integrator 1 (BIN1) proteins, respectively. Because CLU has been implicated in brain amyloid-β (Aβ) clearance in mouse models of amyloid deposition, we sought to investigate whether an AD-linked SNP in the CLU gene altered Aβ42 biomarker levels in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Instead, we found that the CLU rs11136000 SNP modified CSF levels of the microtubule-associated protein Tau in AD patients. We also found that an intracellular form of CLU (iCLU) was upregulated in the brain of Tau overexpressing Tg4510 mice, but not in Tg2576 amyloid mouse model. By overexpressing iCLU and Tau in cell culture systems we discovered that iCLU was a Tau-interacting protein and that iCLU associated with brain-specific isoforms of BIN1, also recently identified as a Tau-binding protein. Through expression analysis of CLU and BIN1 variants, we found that CLU and BIN1 interacted via their coiled-coil motifs. In co-immunoprecipitation studies using human brain tissue, we showed that iCLU and the major BIN1 isoform expressed in neurons were associated with modified Tau species found in AD. Finally, we showed that expression of certain coding CLU variants linked to AD risk led to increased levels of iCLU. Together, our findings suggest that iCLU and BIN1 interaction might impact Tau function in neurons and uncover potential new mechanisms underlying the etiology of Tau pathology in AD.
PMCID: PMC4106906  PMID: 25051234
25.  Human apoE isoforms differentially regulate brain amyloid-β peptide clearance 
Science translational medicine  2011;3(89):89ra57.
The apolipoprotein E (APOE) ε4 allele is the strongest genetic risk factor for late-onset, sporadic Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The APOE ε4 allele dramatically increases AD risk and decreases age of onset, likely through its strong effect on the accumulation of amyloid-β (Aβ) peptide. In contrast, the APOE ε2 allele appears to decrease AD risk. Most rare, early-onset forms of familial AD are caused by autosomal dominant mutations that often lead to overproduction of Aβ42 peptide. However, the mechanism by which APOE alleles differentially modulate Aβ accumulation in sporadic, late-onset AD is less clear. In a cohort of cognitively normal individuals, we report that reliable molecular and neuroimaging biomarkers of cerebral Aβ deposition vary in an apoE isoform-dependent manner. We hypothesized that human apoE isoforms differentially affect Aβ clearance or synthesis in vivo, resulting in an apoE isoform-dependent pattern of Aβ accumulation later in life. Performing in vivo microdialysis in a mouse model of β-amyloidosis expressing human apoE isoforms (PDAPP/TRE), we find that the concentration and clearance of soluble Aβ in the brain interstitial fluid depends on the isoform of apoE expressed. This pattern parallels the extent of Aβ deposition observed in aged PDAPP/TRE mice. Importantly, apoE isoform-dependent differences in soluble Aβ metabolism are observed not only in aged PDAPP/TRE mice but also in young PDAPP/TRE mice, well before the onset of Aβ deposition in amyloid plaques. Additionally, amyloidogenic processing of amyloid precursor protein and Aβ synthesis, as assessed by in vivo stable isotopic labeling kinetics, do not vary according to apoE isoform in young PDAPP/TRE mice. Our results suggest that APOE alleles contribute to AD risk by differentially regulating clearance of Aβ from the brain, suggesting that Aβ clearance pathways may be useful therapeutic targets for AD prevention.
PMCID: PMC3192364  PMID: 21715678

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