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1.  Genome scan in familial late-onset Alzheimer’s disease: a locus on chromosome 6 contributes to age at onset 
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a common, genetically complex, fatal neurodegenerative disorder of late life. Although several genes are known to play a role in early-onset AD, identification of the genetic basis of late onset AD (LOAD) has been challenging, with only the APOE gene known to have a high contribution to both AD risk and age-at-onset. Here we present the first genome-scan analysis of the complete, well-characterized University of Washington LOAD sample of 119 pedigrees, using age-at-onset as the trait of interest. The analysis approach used allows for a multilocus trait model while at the same time accommodating age censoring, effects of APOE as a known genetic covariate, and full pedigree and marker information. The results provide strong evidence for linkage of loci contributing to age-at-onset to genomic regions on chromosome 6q16.3, and to 19q13.42 in the region of the APOE locus. There was evidence for interaction between APOE and the locus on chromosome 6q and suggestive evidence for linkage to chromosomes 11p13, 15q12-14, and 19p13.12. These results provide the first independent confirmation of an AD age-at-onset locus on chromosome 6 and suggest that further efforts towards identifying the underlying causal locus or loci are warranted.
PMCID: PMC3654841  PMID: 23355194
linkage analysis; MCMC; oligogenic; dementia; age-censored
2.  A conserved eEF2 coding variant in SCA26 leads to loss of translational fidelity and increased susceptibility to proteostatic insult 
Human Molecular Genetics  2012;21(26):5472-5483.
The autosomal dominant spinocerebellar ataxias (SCAs) are a genetically heterogeneous group of disorders exhibiting cerebellar atrophy and Purkinje cell degeneration whose subtypes arise from 31 distinct genetic loci. Our group previously published the locus for SCA26 on chromosome 19p13.3. In this study, we performed targeted deep sequencing of the critical interval in order to identify candidate causative variants in individuals from the SCA26 family. We identified a single variant that co-segregates with the disease phenotype that produces a single amino acid substitution in eukaryotic elongation factor 2. This substitution, P596H, sits in a domain critical for maintaining reading frame during translation. The yeast equivalent, P580H EF2, demonstrated impaired translocation, detected as an increased rate of −1 programmed ribosomal frameshift read-through in a dual-luciferase assay for observing translational recoding. This substitution also results in a greater susceptibility to proteostatic disruption, as evidenced by a more robust activation of a reporter gene driven by unfolded protein response activation upon challenge with dithiothreitol or heat shock in our yeast model system. Our results present a compelling candidate mutation and mechanism for the pathogenesis of SCA26 and further support the role of proteostatic disruption in neurodegenerative diseases.
PMCID: PMC3516132  PMID: 23001565
3.  Novel antibody capture assay for paraffin-embedded tissue detects wide-ranging amyloid beta and paired helical filament–tau accumulation in cognitively normal older adults 
Quantifying antigens in formalin-fixed tissue is challenging and limits investigation in population-based studies of brain aging. To address this major limitation, we have developed a new technique that we call “Histelide”: immunohistochemistry (HIST-) and ELISA (-EL-) performed on a glass slide (-IDE). We validated Histelide in sections of prefrontal cortex from 20 selected cases: 12 subjects with clinically and neuropathologically diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease (AD), either autosomal dominant or late-onset forms, and 8 clinical and neuropathologic Controls. AD cases had significantly increased amyloid beta (Aβ) peptide and paired helical filament– (PHF-) tau per area of neocortex that was proteinase K-sensitive, and significantly decreased amount of synaptophysin. We next investigated prefrontal cortex from 81 consecutive cases of high cognitive performers from the Adult Changes in Thought (ACT) study, a population-based study of brain aging and incident dementia. As expected, latent AD was common in this group; however, our results quantified widely individually-varying levels of Aβ peptides and PHF-tau among these high cognitive performers. This novel approach obtains quantitative data from population-based studies, and our initial studies with high cognitive performers provide important quantitative insights into latent AD that should help guide expectations from neuroimaging and prevention studies.
PMCID: PMC3295908  PMID: 21999410
4.  Autosomal Dominant Familial Dyskinesia and Facial Myokymia: Single Exome Sequencing Identifies a Mutation in Adenylate Cyclase 5 
Archives of neurology  2012;69(5):630-635.
Familial dyskinesia with facial myokymia (FDFM) is an autosomal dominant disorder that is exacerbated by anxiety. In a five-generation family of German ancestry we previously mapped FDFM to chromosome 3p21-3q21. The 72.5 Mbp linkage region was too large for traditional positional mutation identification.
To identify the gene responsible for FDFM by exome resequencing of a single affected individual.
Design, Setting and Participants
We performed whole exome sequencing in one affected individual and used a series of bioinformatic filters, including functional significance and presence in dbSNP or 1000 Genomes project, to reduce the number of candidate variants. Co-segregation analysis was performed in 15 additional individuals in three generations.
The exome contained 23428 single nucleotide variants, of which 9391 were missense, nonsense or splice site alterations. The critical region contained 323 variants, five of which were not present in one of the sequence-databases. Adenylate cyclase 5 (ADCY5) was the only gene in which the variant (c.2176G>A) was co-transmitted perfectly with disease status and was not present in 3510 control Caucasian exomes. This residue is highly conserved and the change is nonconservative and predicted to be damaging.
ADCY5 is highly expressed in striatum. Mice deficient in Adcy5 develop a movement disorder that is worsened by stress. We conclude that FDFM likely results from a missense mutation in ADCY5. This study demonstrates the power of a single exome sequence in combination with linkage information to identify causative genes for rare autosomal dominant Mendelian diseases.
PMCID: PMC3508680  PMID: 22782511
5.  TARDBP mutations in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis with TDP-43 neuropathology: a genetic and histopathological analysis 
Lancet neurology  2008;7(5):409-416.
TDP-43 is a major component of the ubiquitinated inclusions that characterise amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) with ubiquitin inclusions (FTLD-U). TDP-43 is an RNA-binding and DNA-binding protein that has many functions and is encoded by the TAR DNA-binding protein gene (TARDBP) on chromosome 1. Our aim was to investigate whether TARDBP is a candidate disease gene for familial ALS that is not associated with mutations in superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1).
TARDBP was sequenced in 259 patients with ALS, FTLD, or both. We used TaqMan-based SNP genotyping to screen for the identifi ed variants in control groups matched to two kindreds of patients for age and ethnic origin. Additional clinical, genetic, and pathological assessments were made in these two families.
We identified two variants, p.Gly290Ala and p.Gly298Ser, in TARDBP in two familial ALS kindreds and we observed TDP-43 neuropathology in the CNS tissue available from one family. The variants are considered pathogenic mutations because they co-segregate with disease in both families, are absent in ethnically-matched controls, and are associated with TDP-43 neuropathology in several family members.
The p.Gly290Ala and p.Gly298Ser mutations are located in the glycine-rich domain that regulates gene expression and mediates protein-protein interactions; in particular TDP-43 binds to heterogeneous ribonucleoproteins (hnRNPs) via this domain. We postulate that due to the varied and important cellular functions of TDP-43, these mutations may cause neurodegeneration through both gains and losses of function. The finding of TARDBP mutations implicates TDP-43 as an active mediator of neurodegeneration in a novel class of disorders, TDP-43 proteinopathies, a class of disorder that includes ALS and FTLD-U.
PMCID: PMC3546119  PMID: 18396105
6.  Genome scan of age-at-onset in the NIMH Alzheimer disease sample uncovers multiple loci, along with evidence of both genetic and sample heterogeneity 
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a common neurodegenerative disorder of late life with a complex genetic basis. Although several genes are known to play a role in rare early-onset AD, only the APOE gene is known to have a high contribution to risk of the common late-onset form of the disease (LOAD, onset > 60 years). APOE genotypes vary in their AD risk as well as age-at-onset distributions, and it is likely that other loci will similarly affect AD age-at-onset. Here we present the first analysis of age-at-onset in the NIMH LOAD sample that allows for both a multilocus trait model and genetic heterogeneity among the contributing sites, while at the same time accommodating age censoring, effects of known genetic covariates, and full pedigree and marker information. The results provide evidence for genomic regions not previously implicated in this data set, including regions on chromosomes 7q, 15, and 19p. They also affirm evidence for loci on chromosomes 1q, 6p, 9q, 11, and, of course, the APOE locus on 19q, all of which have been reported previously in the same sample. The analyses failed to find evidence for linkage to chromosome 10 with inclusion of unaffected subjects and extended pedigrees. Several regions implicated in these analyses in the NIMH sample have been previously reported in genome scans of other AD samples. These results, therefore, provide independent confirmation of AD loci in family-based samples on chromosomes 1q, 7q, 19p, and suggest that further efforts towards identifying the underlying causal loci are warranted.
PMCID: PMC3168696  PMID: 21812099
MCMC; oligogenic; Bayesian; dementia; linkage analysis
7.  Clinicopathological concordance and discordance in three monozygotic twin pairs with familial Alzheimer's disease 
Neuropathological examination of both individuals in a monozygotic (MZ) twin pair with Alzheimer's disease (AD) is rare, especially in the molecular genetic era. We had the opportunity to assess the concordance and discordance of clinical presentation and neuropathology in three MZ twin pairs with AD.
The MZ twins were identified and characterised by the University of Washington Alzheimer's Disease Research Center. We reviewed the available clinical and neuropathological records for all six cases looking specifically for concordance and discordance of clinical phenotype, neuritic amyloid plaques (NP), neurofibrillary tangles (NFT) and Lewy related pathology (LRP).
Discordance in age of onset for developing AD in the MZ twins varied from 4 to 18 years. Clinical presentations also differed between twins. One twin presented with a dementia with Lewy Body clinical syndrome while the other presented with typical clinical AD. Neuropathology within the MZ twin pairs was concordant for NP and NFT, regardless of duration of disease, and was discordant for LRP. This difference was most marked in the late onset AD twin pair. One pair was found to have a mutation in presenilin‐1 (PS1) (A79V) with remarkably late onset in a family member.
MZ twins with AD can vary considerably in age of onset, presentation and disease duration. The concordance of NP and NFT pathological change and the discordance of LRP support the concept that, in AD, the former are primarily under genetic control whereas the latter (LRP) is more influenced by disease duration and environmental factors. The A79V mutation in PS1 can be associated with very late onset of dementia.
PMCID: PMC2117553  PMID: 17615170
8.  Upregulated function of mitochondria-associated ER membranes in Alzheimer disease 
The EMBO Journal  2012;31(21):4106-4123.
Alzheimer disease (AD) associated (gamma)-secretase components presenilin-1 and -2 accumulate in MAM, an LR-like ER subcompartment connected to mitochondria. MAM function increases in patients with familial or sporadic AD and may be linked to AD pathogenesis.
Alzheimer disease (AD) is associated with aberrant processing of the amyloid precursor protein (APP) by γ-secretase, via an unknown mechanism. We recently showed that presenilin-1 and -2, the catalytic components of γ-secretase, and γ-secretase activity itself, are highly enriched in a subcompartment of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) that is physically and biochemically connected to mitochondria, called mitochondria-associated ER membranes (MAMs). We now show that MAM function and ER–mitochondrial communication—as measured by cholesteryl ester and phospholipid synthesis, respectively—are increased significantly in presenilin-mutant cells and in fibroblasts from patients with both the familial and sporadic forms of AD. We also show that MAM is an intracellular detergent-resistant lipid raft (LR)-like domain, consistent with the known presence of presenilins and γ-secretase activity in rafts. These findings may help explain not only the aberrant APP processing but also a number of other biochemical features of AD, including altered lipid metabolism and calcium homeostasis. We propose that upregulated MAM function at the ER–mitochondrial interface, and increased cross-talk between these two organelles, may play a hitherto unrecognized role in the pathogenesis of AD.
PMCID: PMC3492725  PMID: 22892566
APP; cholesterol; MAM; phospholipids; presenilin
9.  Geriatric Neurogenetics: Oxymoron or Reality? 
Archives of neurology  2008;65(4):537-539.
Primary genetic diseases are generally associated with pediatric and young adult populations. There is little information about the occurrence of single gene Mendelian diseases in the elderly.
To describe the occurrence of single gene neurogenetic disorders in a group of elderly patients.
Academic University and VA Medical Centers.
Eight elderly patients are described with single gene neurogenetic diseases. They include two 87 and 85 year old men with Huntington’s disease, an 84 year old woman with Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy Type 2A, a 78 year old man with SCA14, an 86 year old man with SCA5, an 85 man with a presenilin 1 familial Alzheimer’s disease mutation, an 87 year old man with autosomal dominant hereditary neuropathy and a 78 year old man with SCA6. Three cases had no family history of neurological disease.
Single gene Mendelian neurogenetic diseases can be found in the oldest old. Such cases are presently under recognized and will become more commonly observed in the future. This phenomenon is a result of: 1: The aging of the general population, 2: Better recognition of the highly variable ages of onset of genetic diseases and 3: The availability of specific DNA-based genetic testing.
PMCID: PMC2671886  PMID: 18413479
10.  Familial Prion Disease with Alzheimer Disease-Like Tau Pathology and Clinical Phenotype 
Annals of neurology  2011;69(4):712-720.
To describe the Alzheimer disease (AD)-like clinical and pathological features, including marked neurofibrillary tangle (NFT) pathology, of a familial prion disease due to a rare nonsense mutation of the prion gene (PRNP).
Longitudinal clinical assessments were available for the proband and her mother. After death, both underwent neuropathological evaluation. PRNP was sequenced after failure to find immunopositive Aβ deposits in the proband and the documentation of prion protein (PrP) immunopositive pathology.
The proband presented at age 42 years with a 3-year history of progressive short-term memory impairment and depression. Neuropsychological testing found impaired memory performance, with relatively preserved attention and construction. She was diagnosed with AD and died at age 47 years. Neuropathologic evaluation revealed extensive limbic and neocortical NFT formation and neuritic plaques consistent with a Braak stage of VI. The NFTs were immunopositive, with multiple tau antibodies, and electron microscopy revealed paired helical filaments. However, the neuritic plaques were immunonegative for Aβ, whereas immunostaining for PrP was positive. The mother of the proband had a similar presentation, including depression, and had been diagnosed clinically and pathologically as AD. Reevaluation of her brain tissue confirmed similar tau and PrP immunostaining findings. Genetic analysis revealed that both the proband and her mother had a rare PRNP mutation (Q160X) that resulted in the production of truncated PrP.
We suggest that PRNP mutations that result in a truncation of PrP lead to a prolonged clinical course consistent with a clinical diagnosis of AD and severe AD-like NFTs.
PMCID: PMC3114566  PMID: 21416485
11.  Neuronal loss in Pelizaeus–Merzbacher disease differs in various mutations of the proteolipid protein 1 
Acta neuropathologica  2009;118(4):10.1007/s00401-009-0562-8.
Mutations affecting proteolipid protein 1 (PLP1), the major protein in central nervous system myelin, cause the X-linked leukodystrophy Pelizaeus–Merzbacher disease (PMD). We describe the neuropathologic findings in a series of eight male PMD subjects with confirmed PLP1 mutations, including duplications, complete gene deletion, missense and exon-skipping. While PLP1 mutations have effects on oligodendrocytes that result in mutation-specific degrees of dysmyelination, our findings indicate that there are also unexpected effects in the central nervous system resulting in neuronal loss. Although length-dependent axonal degeneration has been described in PLP1 null mutations, there have been no reports on neuronal degeneration in PMD patients. We now demonstrate widespread neuronal loss in PMD. The patterns of neuronal loss appear to be dependent on the mutation type, suggesting selective vulnerability of neuronal populations that depends on the nature of the PLP1 disturbance. Nigral neurons, which were not affected in patients with either null or severe misfolding mutations, and thalamic neurons appear particularly vulnerable in PLP1 duplication and deletion patients, while hippocampal neuronal loss was prominent in a patient with complete PLP1 gene deletion. All subjects showed cerebellar neuronal loss. The patterns of neuronal involvement may explain some clinical findings, such as ataxia, being more prominent in PMD than in other leukodystrophies. While the precise pathogenetic mechanisms are not known, these observations suggest that defective glial functions contribute to neuronal pathology.
PMCID: PMC3876935  PMID: 19562355
12.  Heritability of Different Forms of Memory in the Late Onset Alzheimer’s Disease Family Study 
The study aim was to estimate the genetic contribution to individual differences in different forms of memory in a large family-based group of older adults. As part of the Late Onset Alzheimer’s Disease Family Study, 899 persons (277 with Alzheimer’s disease, 622 unaffected) from 325 families completed a battery of memory tests from which previously established composite measures of episodic memory, semantic memory, and working memory were derived. Heritability in these measures was estimated using the maximum likelihood variance component method, controlling for age, sex, and education. In analyses of unaffected family members, the adjusted heritability estimates were 0.62 for episodic memory, 0.49 for semantic memory, and 0.72 for working memory, where a heritability estimate of 1 indicates that genetic factors explain all of the phenotypic variance and a heritability of 0 indicates that genetic factors explain none. Adjustment for APOE genotype had little effect on these estimates. When analyses included affected and unaffected family members, adjusted heritability estimates were lower (0.47 for episodic memory, 0.32 for semantic memory, 0.42 for working memory). Adjusting for APOE slightly reduced the estimate for episodic memory (0.40) but had no effect on the remaining estimates. The results indicate that memory functions are under strong genetic influence in older persons with and without AD, only partly attributable to APOE. This suggests that genetic analyses of memory endophenotypes may help to identify genetic variants associated with AD.
PMCID: PMC3130303  PMID: 20930268
Alzheimer’s disease; memory; heritability; apolipoprotein E
13.  A novel mutation in FHL1 in a family with X-linked scapuloperoneal myopathy: phenotypic spectrum and structural study of FHL1 mutations 
An X-linked myopathy was recently associated with mutations in the four-and-a-half-LIM domains 1 (FHL1) gene. We identified a family with late onset, slowly progressive weakness of scapuloperoneal muscles in three brothers and their mother. A novel missense mutation in the LIM2 domain of FHL1 (W122C) co-segregated with disease in the family. The phenotype was less severe than that in other reported families. Muscle biopsy revealed myopathic changes with FHL1 inclusions that were ubiquitin- and desmin-positive. This mutation provides additional evidence for X-linked myopathy caused by a narrow spectrum of mutations in FHL1, mostly in the LIM2 domain. Molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of the newly identified mutation and five previously published missense mutations in the LIM2 domain revealed no major distortions of the protein structure or disruption of zinc binding. There were, however, increases in the nonpolar, solvent-accessible surface area in one or both of two clusters of residues, suggesting that the mutant proteins have a variably increased propensity to aggregate. Review of the literature shows a wide range of phenotypes associated with mutations in FHL1. However, recognizing the typical scapuloperoneal phenotype and X-linked inheritance pattern will help clinicians arrive at the correct diagnosis.
PMCID: PMC3016010  PMID: 20633900
X-linked myopathy; scapuloperoneal; FHL1; neurogenetics; muscular dystrophy; genetic diagnosis
14.  Human TUBB3 mutations perturb microtubule dynamics, kinesin interactions, and axon guidance 
Cell  2010;140(1):74-87.
We report that eight heterozygous missense mutations in TUBB3, encoding the neuron-specific β-tubulin isotype III, result in a spectrum of human nervous system disorders we now call the TUBB3 syndromes. Each mutation causes the ocular motility disorder CFEOM3, whereas some also result in intellectual and behavioral impairments, facial paralysis, and/or later-onset axonal sensorimotor polyneuropathy. Neuroimaging reveals a spectrum of abnormalities including hypoplasia of oculomotor nerves, and dysgenesis of the corpus callosum, anterior commissure, and corticospinal tracts. A knock-in disease mouse model reveals axon guidance defects without evidence of cortical cell migration abnormalities. We show the disease-associated mutations can impair tubulin heterodimer formation in vitro, although folded mutant heterodimers can still polymerize into microtubules. Modeling each mutation in yeast tubulin demonstrates that all alter dynamic instability whereas a subset disrupts the interaction of microtubules with kinesin motors. These findings demonstrate normal TUBB3 is required for axon guidance and maintenance in mammals.
PMCID: PMC3164117  PMID: 20074521
15.  Evidence for Three Loci Modifying Age-at-Onset of Alzheimer’s Disease in Early-Onset PSEN2 Families 
Families with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease (AD) sharing a single PSEN2 mutation exhibit a wide range of age-at-onset, suggesting that modifier loci segregate within these families. While APOE is known to be an age-at-onset modifier, it does not explain all of this variation. We performed a genome scan within nine such families for loci influencing age-at-onset, while simultaneously controlling for variation in the primary PSEN2 mutation (N141I) and APOE. We found significant evidence of linkage between age-at-onset and chromosome 1q23.3 (P < 0.001) when analysis included all families, and to chromosomes 1q23.3 (P < 0.001), 17p13.2 (P = 0.0002), 7q33 (P = 0.017), and 11p14.2 (P = 0.017) in a single large pedigree. Simultaneous analysis of these four chromosomes maintained strong evidence of linkage to chromosomes 1q23.3 and 17p13.2 when all families were analyzed, and to chromosomes 1q23.3, 7q33, and 17p13.2 within the same single pedigree. Inclusion of major gene covariates proved essential to detect these linkage signals, as all linkage signals dissipated when PSEN2 and APOE were excluded from the model. The four chromosomal regions with evidence of linkage all coincide with previous linkage signals, associated SNPs, and/or candidate genes identified in independent AD study populations. This study establishes several candidate regions for further analysis and is consistent with an oligogenic model of AD risk and age-at-onset. More generally, this study also demonstrates the value of searching for modifier loci in existing datasets previously used to identify primary causal variants for complex disease traits.
PMCID: PMC3022037  PMID: 20333730
genome-scan; modifier scan; quantitative trait; complex disease; dementia
16.  Familial Dyskinesia and Facial Myokymia (FDFM): Follow-up of a large family and linkage to chromosome 3p21-3q21 
We previously reported a five-generation family manifesting an autosomal dominant disorder of facial myokymia and dystonic/choreic movements (FDFM). The dyskinetic episodes are initially paroxysmal but may become constant. With increasing age they may lessen or even disappear. The previous study excluded nine candidate genes chosen for their association with myokymia or chorea and two regions containing single or clustered ion channel genes. We now report identification by whole genome linkage analysis of a broad region on chromosome 3p21-3q21 that segregates with the disease in all ten affected members in three generations who participated in the study. GENEHUNTER-MODSCORE Version 2.0.1 provided a maximum multipoint LOD score of 3.099. No other disorders primarily characterized by myokymia, dystonia, or chorea are known to map to this region. Identification of additional families with FDFM may narrow the critical region and facilitate the choice of candidate genes for further analysis.
PMCID: PMC3116722  PMID: 18980218
chorea; movement disorder; episodic disorder
17.  Alzheimer’s disease phenotypes and genotypes associated with mutations in presenilin 2 
Brain  2010;133(4):1143-1154.
Mutations in presenilin 2 are rare causes of early onset familial Alzheimer’s disease. Eighteen presenilin 2 mutations have been reported, although not all have been confirmed pathogenic. Much remains to be learned about the range of phenotypes associated with these mutations. We have analysed our unique collection of 146 affected cases in 11 Volga German families, 101 who are likely to have the same N141I mutation in presenilin 2 (54 genotyped confirmed). We have also assessed the detailed neuropathologic findings in 18 autopsies from these families and reviewed the world’s literature on other presenilin 2 mutations; presenting a novel mutation that is predicted to lead to a premature truncation codon. Seven presenilin 2 mutations reported in the literature have strong evidence for pathogenicity whereas others may be benign polymorphisms. One hundred and one affected persons, with sufficient historical information from the Volga German pedigrees (N141I mutation), had a mean onset age of 53.7 years ± 7.8 (range 39–75) and mean age at death of 64.2 years ± 9.8 (range 43–88). These figures overlap with and generally fall between the results from the subjects in our centre who have late onset familial Alzheimer’s disease or mutations in presenilin 1. Seizures were noted in 20 (30%) of 64 subjects with detailed medical records. Two mutation carriers lived beyond age 80 without developing dementia, representing uncommon examples of decreased penetrance. Two persons had severe amyloid angiopathy and haemorrhagic stroke. Eighteen cases had detailed histopathology available and analysed at our institution. Braak stage was five or six, amyloid angiopathy and neuritic plaques were common and more than 75% had Lewy bodies in the amygdala. TAR DNA-binding protein-43 inclusions were uncommon. In addition, a 58-year-old female with a 2 year course of cognitive decline and no family history of dementia has abnormal fludeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography imaging and a novel 2 base pair deletion in presenilin 2 at nucleotide 342/343, predicted to produce a frame-shift and premature termination. We conclude that mutations in presenilin 2 are rare with only seven being well documented in the literature. The best studied N141I mutation produces an Alzheimer’s disease phenotype with a wide range of onset ages overlapping both early and late onset Alzheimer’s disease, often associated with seizures, high penetrance and typical Alzheimer’s disease neuropathology. A novel premature termination mutation supports loss of function or haploinsufficiency as pathogenic mechanisms in presenilin 2 associated Alzheimer’s disease.
PMCID: PMC2850581  PMID: 20375137
Alzheimer’s disease; presenilin 2; human genetics; dementia; amyloid; Volga German
18.  Genetics of Alzheimer Disease 
Alzheimer disease (AD) is the most common causes of neurodegenerative disorder in the elderly individuals. Clinically, patients initially present with short-term memory loss, subsequently followed by executive dysfunction, confusion, agitation, and behavioral disturbances. Three causative genes have been associated with autosomal dominant familial AD (APP, PSEN1, and PSEN2) and 1 genetic risk factor (APOEε4 allele). Identification of these genes has led to a number of animal models that have been useful to study the pathogenesis underlying AD. In this article, we provide an overview of the clinical and genetic features of AD.
PMCID: PMC3044597  PMID: 21045163
Alzheimer disease; genetics; neurodegeneration
19.  The N141I Mutation in PSEN2 
Archives of neurology  2010;67(5):631-633.
To connect a new family with early-onset Alzheimer disease (EOAD) in Germany to the American Volga German pedigrees.
Pedigree molecular genetic analysis.
University Medical Centers in Fulda and Giessen, Germany, and in Seattle, Washington.
The families from Fulda, Germany, and the American Volga German families with EOAD share the same N141I PSEN2 mutation on an identical haplotypic background. This establishes that the N141I mutation occurred prior to emigration of the families from the Hesse region to Russia in the 1760s, and documents that relatives of the original immigrant families are presently living in Germany with the mutation and the disease.
A family with the N141I mutation in PSEN2 that presently lives in Germany has been connected to the haplotype that carries the same mutation in pedigrees descended from the Volga Germans. This raises the possibility that the original patient with Alzheimer disease (Auguste D.), who had EOAD and lived in this same region of Germany, may also have had the PSEN2 N141I mutation.
PMCID: PMC3016011  PMID: 20457965
20.  Identification of novel susceptibility loci for Guam neurodegenerative disease: challenges of genome scans in genetic isolates 
Human Molecular Genetics  2009;18(19):3725-3738.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/parkinsonism–dementia complex (ALS/PDC) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease found in the Chamorro people of Guam and other Pacific Island populations. The etiology is unknown, although both genetic and environmental factors appear important. To identify loci for ALS/PDC, we conducted both genome-wide linkage and association analyses, using approximately 400 microsatellite markers, in the largest sample assembled to date, comprising a nearly complete sample of all living and previously sampled deceased cases. A single, large, complex pedigree was ascertained from a village on Guam, with smaller families and a case–control sample ascertained from the rest of Guam by population-based neurological screening and archival review. We found significant evidence for two regions with novel ALS/PDC loci on chromosome 12 and supportive evidence for the involvement of the MAPT region on chromosome 17. D12S1617 on 12p gave the strongest evidence of linkage (maximum LOD score, Zmax = 4.03) in our initial scan, with additional support in the complete case–control sample in the form of evidence of allelic association at this marker and another nearby marker. D12S79 on 12q also provided significant evidence of linkage (Zmax = 3.14) with support from flanking markers. Our results suggest that ALS/PDC may be influenced by as many as three loci, while illustrating challenges that are intrinsic in genetic analyses of isolated populations, as well as analytical strategies that are useful in this context. Elucidation of the genetic basis of ALS/PDC should improve our understanding of related neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease, frontotemporal dementia and ALS.
PMCID: PMC2742398  PMID: 19567404
21.  The Spectrum of Mutations in Progranulin 
Archives of neurology  2010;67(2):161-170.
Mutation in the progranulin gene (GRN) can cause frontotemporal dementia (FTD). However, it is unclear whether some rare FTD-related GRN variants are pathogenic and whether neurodegenerative disorders other than FTD can also be caused by GRN mutations.
To delineate the range of clinical presentations associated with GRN mutations and to define pathogenic candidacy of rare GRN variants.
Case-control study.
Clinical and neuropathology dementia research studies at 8 academic centers.
Four hundred thirty-four patients with FTD, including primary progressive aphasia, semantic dementia, FTD/amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), FTD/motor neuron disease, corticobasal syndrome/corticobasal degeneration, progressive supranuclear palsy, Pick disease, dementia lacking distinctive histopathology, and pathologically confirmed cases of frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitin-positive inclusions (FTLD-U); and 111 non-FTD cases (controls) in which TDP-43 deposits were a prominent neuropathological feature, including subjects with ALS, Guam ALS and/or parkinsonism dementia complex, Guam dementia, Alzheimer disease, multiple system atrophy, and argyrophilic grain disease.
Main Outcome Measures
Variants detected on sequencing of all 13 GRN exons and at least 80 base pairs of flanking introns, and their pathogenic candidacy determined by in silico and ex vivo splicing assays.
We identified 58 genetic variants that included 26 previously unknown changes. Twenty-four variants appeared to be pathogenic, including 8 novel mutations. The frequency of GRN mutations was 6.9% (30 of 434) of all FTD-spectrum cases, 21.4% (9 of 42) of cases with a pathological diagnosis of FTLD-U, 16.0% (28 of 175) of FTD-spectrum cases with a family history of a similar neurodegenerative disease, and 56.2% (9 of 16) of cases of FTLD-U with a family history.
Pathogenic mutations were found only in FTD-spectrum cases and not in other related neurodegenerative diseases. Haploinsufficiency of GRN is the predominant mechanism leading to FTD.
PMCID: PMC2901991  PMID: 20142524
22.  Detergent-Insoluble EAAC1/EAAT3 Aberrantly Accumulates in Hippocampal Neurons of Alzheimer’s Disease Patients 
Disturbed glutamate homeostasis may contribute to the pathological processes involved in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Once glutamate is released from synapses or from other intracellular sources, it is rapidly cleared by glutamate transporters. EAAC1 (also called EAAT3 or SLC1A1) is the primary glutamate transporter in forebrain neurons. In addition to transporting glutamate, EAAC1 plays other roles in regulating GABA synthesis, reducing oxidative stress in neurons, and is important in supporting neuron viability. Currently, little is known about EAAC1 in AD. To address whether EAAC1 is disturbed in AD, immunohistochemistry was performed on tissue from hippocampus and frontal cortex of AD and normal control subjects matched for age and gender. While EAAC1 immunostaining in cortex appeared comparable to controls, in the hippocampus, EAAC1 aberrantly accumulated in the cell bodies and proximal neuritic processes of CA2–CA3 pyramidal neurons in AD patients. Biochemical analyses showed that Triton X-100-insoluble EAAC1 was significantly increased in the hippocampus of AD patients compared to both controls and Parkinson’s disease patients. These findings suggest that aberrant glutamate transporter expression is associated with AD-related neuropathology and that intracellular accumulation of detergent-insoluble EAAC1 is a feature of the complex biochemical lesions in AD that include altered protein solubility.
PMCID: PMC2657182  PMID: 18624794
Glutamate Uptake; Glutamate toxicity; Synaptic dysfunction; protein aggregation; neurodegeneration; memantine; excitotoxicity
23.  Glucocerebrosidase Gene Mutations 
Archives of neurology  2008;65(3):379-382.
Mutations in the glucocerebrosidase (GBA) gene have been reported to modify risk for Parkinson disease (PD) and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). However, these findings have not been consistently replicated, and most studies have had substantial methodological shortcomings.
To better assess the role of GBA variants in altering risk for Lewy body disorders.
Case-control study.
Four movement disorder clinics in the Seattle, Washington, area.
Seven hundred twenty-one patients with PD, 554 healthy control subjects, and 57 patients with DLB.
Main Outcome Measures
Disease status and presence or absence of the 2 most common GBA mutations (N370S and L444P).
We observed a significantly higher heterozygote frequency for the 2 mutations in patients with PD (2.9%; P<.001) and those with DLB (3.5%; P=.045) compared with control subjects (0.4%).
Our findings suggest that GBA mutations exert a large effect on susceptibility for Lewy body disorders at the individual level but are associated with a modest (approximately 3%) population-attributable risk in individuals of European ancestry.
PMCID: PMC2826203  PMID: 18332251
24.  Lack of evidence for an association between UCHL1 S18Y and Parkinson’s disease 
UCHL1 has been proposed as a candidate gene for Parkinson’s disease (PD). A meta-analysis of white and Asian subjects reported an inverse association between the non-synonymous UCHL1 S18Y polymorphism and PD risk. However, this finding was not replicated in a large case–control study and updated meta-analysis restricted to white subjects. We performed a case–control study of 1757 PD patients recruited from movement disorder clinics and 2016 unrelated controls from four regions of the United States. All subjects self-reported as white. We did not observe evidence for an association between S18Y genotypes and PD (overall P-value for association: P = 0.42). After adjustment for age, sex, and recruitment region, the odds ratio for Y/S versus S/S was 0.91 (95% CI: 0.78–1.06) and for Y/Y versus S/S was 0.87 (95% CI: 0.58–1.29). We also did not observe a significant association for recessive or dominant models of inheritance, or after stratification by age at onset, age at blood draw, sex, family history of PD, or recruitment region. Our results suggest that UCHL1 S18Y is not a major susceptibility factor for PD in white populations although we cannot exclude the possibility that the S18Y variant exerts weak effects on risk, particularly in early-onset disease.
PMCID: PMC2823263  PMID: 18093156
case-control study; neuroepidemiology; Parkinson’s disease; UCHL1
25.  Comparing test-specific distress of susceptibility versus deterministic genetic testing for Alzheimer’s disease 
Genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) may be conferred by the susceptibility polymorphism apolipoprotein E (APOE), where the ε4 allele increases the risk of developing late-onset Alzheimer’s disease but is not a definitive predictor of the disease, or by autosomal dominant mutations (e.g., the presenilins), which almost inevitably result in early-onset familial Alzheimer’s disease. The purpose of this study was to compare the psychological impact of using these two different types of genetic information to disclose genetic risk for AD to family members of affected patients.
Data were compared from two separate protocols. The Risk Evaluation and Education for Alzheimer’s Disease (REVEAL) Study is a randomized, multi-site clinical trial that evaluated the impact of susceptibility testing for Alzheimer’s disease with APOE in 101 adult children of Alzheimer’s disease patients. A separate study, conducted at the University of Washington, assessed the impact of deterministic genetic testing by disclosing presenilin-1, presenilin-2, or TAU genotype to 22 individuals at risk for familial Alzheimer’s disease or frontotemporal dementia. In both protocols, participants received genetic counseling and completed the Impact of Event Scale (IES), a measure of test-specific distress. Scores were analyzed at the time point closest to one year post-disclosure at which IES data were available. The role of genetic test result (positive vs. negative) and type of genetic testing (deterministic vs. susceptibility) in predicting log-transformed IES scores was assessed with linear regression, controlling for age, gender, and time from disclosure.
Subjects from the REVEAL Study who learned that they were positive for the susceptibility gene APOE ε4+ experienced similar, low levels of test-specific distress compared to those who received positive results of deterministic testing in the University of Washington study (p= 0.78). APOE ε4+ individuals in the susceptibility protocol experienced more test-specific distress than those who tested ε4− in the same study (p= 0.04); however, among those receiving deterministic test disclosure, the subjects who received positive results did not experience significantly higher levels of distress when compared to those who received negative results (p= 0.88).
The findings of this preliminary study, with limited sample size, suggest that the test-related distress experienced by those receiving positive results for a deterministic mutation is similar to the distress experienced by those receiving positive results from genetic susceptibility testing, and that the majority of participants receiving genotype disclosure do not experience clinically significant distress as indicated by IES scores one year after learning of their test results.
PMCID: PMC2610442  PMID: 19012865
genetic susceptibility testing; deterministic testing; Alzheimer’s disease; APOE; genetic counseling

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