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1.  C9ORF72 hexanucleotide repeat expansions in clinical Alzheimer’s disease 
JAMA neurology  2013;70(6):736-741.
Hexanucleotide repeat expansions in C9ORF72 underlie a significant fraction of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). This study investigates the frequency of C9ORF72 repeat expansions in clinically diagnosed late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
Design, setting and patients
This case-control study genotyped the C9ORF72 repeat expansion in 872 unrelated familial AD cases and 888 controls recruited as part of the NIA-LOAD cohort, a multi-site collaboration studying 1000 families with two or more individuals clinically diagnosed with late-onset-AD.
Main Outcome Measure
We determined the presence or absence of the C9ORF72 repeat expansion by repeat-primed PCR, the length of the longest non-expanded allele, segregation of the genotype with disease, and clinical features of repeat expansion carriers.
Three families showed large C9ORF72 hexanucleotide repeat expansions. Two additional families carried more than 30 repeats. Segregation with disease could be demonstrated in 3 families. One affected expansion carrier had neuropathology compatible with AD. In the NIA-LOAD series, the C9ORF72 repeat expansions constituted the second most common pathogenic mutation, just behind the PSEN1 A79V mutation, highlighting the heterogeneity of clinical presentations associated with repeat expansions.
C9ORF72 repeat expansions explain a small proportion of patients with a clinical presentation indistinguishable from AD, and highlight the necessity of screening “FTD genes” in clinical AD cases with strong family history.
PMCID: PMC3681841  PMID: 23588422
3.  Rare Variants in APP, PSEN1 and PSEN2 Increase Risk for AD in Late-Onset Alzheimer's Disease Families 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e31039.
Pathogenic mutations in APP, PSEN1, PSEN2, MAPT and GRN have previously been linked to familial early onset forms of dementia. Mutation screening in these genes has been performed in either very small series or in single families with late onset AD (LOAD). Similarly, studies in single families have reported mutations in MAPT and GRN associated with clinical AD but no systematic screen of a large dataset has been performed to determine how frequently this occurs. We report sequence data for 439 probands from late-onset AD families with a history of four or more affected individuals. Sixty sequenced individuals (13.7%) carried a novel or pathogenic mutation. Eight pathogenic variants, (one each in APP and MAPT, two in PSEN1 and four in GRN) three of which are novel, were found in 14 samples. Thirteen additional variants, present in 23 families, did not segregate with disease, but the frequency of these variants is higher in AD cases than controls, indicating that these variants may also modify risk for disease. The frequency of rare variants in these genes in this series is significantly higher than in the 1,000 genome project (p = 5.09×10−5; OR = 2.21; 95%CI = 1.49–3.28) or an unselected population of 12,481 samples (p = 6.82×10−5; OR = 2.19; 95%CI = 1.347–3.26). Rare coding variants in APP, PSEN1 and PSEN2, increase risk for or cause late onset AD. The presence of variants in these genes in LOAD and early-onset AD demonstrates that factors other than the mutation can impact the age at onset and penetrance of at least some variants associated with AD. MAPT and GRN mutations can be found in clinical series of AD most likely due to misdiagnosis. This study clearly demonstrates that rare variants in these genes could explain an important proportion of genetic heritability of AD, which is not detected by GWAS.
PMCID: PMC3270040  PMID: 22312439
4.  Exome-Sequencing Confirms DNAJC5 Mutations as Cause of Adult Neuronal Ceroid-Lipofuscinosis 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e26741.
We performed whole-exome sequencing in two autopsy-confirmed cases and an elderly unaffected control from a multigenerational family with autosomal dominant neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (ANCL). A novel single-nucleotide variation (c.344T>G) in the DNAJC5 gene was identified. Mutational screening in an independent family with autosomal dominant ANCL found an in-frame single codon deletion (c.346_348 delCTC) resulting in a deletion of p.Leu116del. These variants fulfill all genetic criteria for disease-causing mutations: they are found in unrelated families with the same disease, exhibit complete segregation between the mutation and the disease, and are absent in healthy controls. In addition, the associated amino acid substitutions are located in evolutionarily highly conserved residues and are predicted to functionally affect the encoded protein (CSPα). The mutations are located in a cysteine-string domain, which is required for membrane targeting/binding, palmitoylation, and oligomerization of CSPα. We performed a comprehensive in silico analysis of the functional and structural impact of both mutations on CSPα. We found that these mutations dramatically decrease the affinity of CSPα for the membrane. We did not identify any significant effect on palmitoylation status of CSPα. However, a reduction of CSPα membrane affinity may change its palmitoylation and affect proper intracellular sorting. We confirm that CSPα has a strong intrinsic aggregation propensity; however, it is not modified by the mutations. A complementary disease-network analysis suggests a potential interaction with other NCLs genes/pathways. This is the first replication study of the identification of DNAJC5 as the disease-causing gene for autosomal dominant ANCL. The identification of the novel gene in ANCL will allow us to gain a better understanding of the pathological mechanism of ANCLs and constitutes a great advance toward the development of new molecular diagnostic tests and may lead to the development of potential therapies.
PMCID: PMC3208569  PMID: 22073189

Results 1-4 (4)