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1.  Pathogenicity of exonic indels in fused in sarcoma in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis 
Neurobiology of aging  2010;33(2):424.e23-424.e24.
Insertion and deletion variants (indels) within poly glycine tracts of fused in sarcoma (FUS) were initially reported as causative of disease in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Subsequent studies identified similar indels in controls and suggested that these indels may confer susceptibility to ALS. We aimed to elucidate the role of previously published and novel exonic indels in FUS in an extensive cohort of 630 ALS patients and 1063 controls. We detected indels in FUS exons 5, 6, 12 and 14 with similar frequencies in patients (0.95%) and controls (0.75%). Exonic indels in poly glycine tracts were also observed with similar frequencies. The largest indel (p.Gly138_Tyr143del) was observed in one control. In one patient, a 3 base pair deletion in exon 14 (p.Gly475del) was identified, however in-vitro studies did not reveal abnormal localization of p.Gly475del mutant FUS. These findings suggest that not all exonic indels in FUS cause disease.
doi:10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2010.09.029
PMCID: PMC3130814  PMID: 21074900
2.  Clinical, neuroimaging and neuropathological features of a new chromosome 9p-linked FTD-ALS family 
Background
Frontotemporal dementia-amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (FTD-ALS) is a heritable form of FTD, but the gene(s) responsible for the majority of autosomal dominant FTD-ALS cases have yet to be found. Previous studies have identified a region on chromosome 9p that is associated with FTD and ALS.
Methods
The authors report the clinical, volumetric MRI, neuropathological and genetic features of a new chromosome 9p-linked FTD-ALS family, VSM-20.
Results
Ten members of family VSM-20 displayed heterogeneous clinical phenotypes of isolated behavioural-variant FTD (bvFTD), ALS or a combination of the two. Parkinsonism was common, with one individual presenting with a corticobasal syndrome. Analysis of structural MRI scans from five affected family members revealed grey- and white-matter loss that was most prominent in the frontal lobes, with mild parietal and occipital lobe atrophy, but less temporal lobe atrophy than in 10 severity-matched sporadic bvFTD cases. Autopsy in three family members showed a consistent and unique subtype of FTLD-TDP pathology. Genome-wide linkage analysis conclusively linked family VSM-20 to a 28.3 cM region between D9S1808 and D9S251 on chromosome 9p, reducing the published minimal linked region to a 3.7 Mb interval. Genomic sequencing and expression analysis failed to identify mutations in the 10 known and predicted genes within this candidate region, suggesting that next-generation sequencing may be needed to determine the mutational mechanism associated with chromosome 9p-linked FTD-ALS.
Conclusions
Family VSM-20 significantly reduces the region linked to FTD-ALS on chromosome 9p. A distinct pattern of brain atrophy and neuropathological findings may help to identify other families with FTD-ALS caused by this genetic abnormality.
doi:10.1136/jnnp.2009.204081
PMCID: PMC3017222  PMID: 20562461
3.  De Novo Truncating FUS Gene Mutation as a Cause of Sporadic Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis 
Human mutation  2010;31(5):E1377-E1389.
Mutations in the gene encoding fused in sarcoma (FUS) were recently identified as a novel cause of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), emphasizing the genetic heterogeneity of ALS. We sequenced the genes encoding superoxide dismutase (SOD1), TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TARDBP) and FUS in 99 sporadic and 17 familial ALS patients ascertained at Mayo Clinic. We identified two novel mutations in FUS in two out of 99 (2.0%) sporadic ALS patients and established the de novo occurrence of one FUS mutation. In familial patients, we identified three (17.6%) SOD1 mutations, while FUS and TARDBP mutations were excluded. The de novo FUS mutation (g.10747A>G; IVS13-2A>G) affects the splice-acceptor site of FUS intron 13 and was shown to induce skipping of FUS exon 14 leading to the C-terminal truncation of FUS (p.G466VfsX14). Subcellular localization studies showed a dramatic increase in the cytoplasmic localization of FUS and a reduction of normal nuclear expression in cells transfected with truncated compared to wild-type FUS. We further identified a novel in-frame insertion/deletion mutation in FUS exon 12 (p.S402 P411delinsGGGG) which is predicted to expand a conserved poly-glycine motif. Our findings extend the mutation spectrum in FUS leading to ALS and describe the first de novo mutation in FUS.
doi:10.1002/humu.21241
PMCID: PMC2922682  PMID: 20232451
FUS/TLS; fused in sarcoma; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; de novo mutation; FUS splice-site mutation; FUS truncating mutation
4.  GENETIC SCREENING OF ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE GENES IN IBERIAN AND AFRICAN SAMPLES YIELDS NOVEL MUTATIONS IN PRESENILINES AND APP 
Neurobiology of aging  2008;31(5):725-731.
Mutations in three genes (PSEN1, PSEN2, and APP) have been identified in patients with early-onset (<65years) Alzheimer’s disease (AD). We performed a screening for mutations in the coding regions of presenilins, as well as exons 16 and 17 of the APP gene in a total of 231 patients from the Iberian peninsular with a clinical diagnosis of early onset AD (mean age at onset of 52.9 years; range 31–64). We found three novel mutations in PSEN1, one novel mutation in PSEN2, and a novel mutation in the APP gene. Four previously described mutations in PSEN1 were also found. The same analysis was carried in 121 elderly healthy controls from the Iberian peninsular, and a set of 130 individuals from seven African populations belonging to the Centre d’Etude du Polymorphisme Humain-Human Genome Diversity Panel (CEPH-HGDP), in order to determine the extent of normal variability in these genes. Interestingly, in the latter series, we found five new nonsynonymous changes in all three genes and a presenilin 2 variant (R62H) that has been previously related to AD. In some of these mutations, the pathologic consequence is uncertain and needs further investigation. To address this question we propose and use a systematic algorithm to classify the putative pathology of AD mutations.
doi:10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2008.06.012
PMCID: PMC2850052  PMID: 18667258
Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease; Presenilins; APP; mutations
5.  Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease with Spastic Paraparesis, Dysarthria and Seizures and N135S Mutation in PSEN1 
Objective
Early onset familial Alzheimer’s disease (EOFAD) can be caused by mutations in genes for amyloid precursor protein (APP), presenilin 1 (PSEN1) or presenilin 2 (PSEN2). There is considerable phenotypic variability in EOFAD, including some patients with spastic paraparesis. The objective is to describe clinical and neuropathologic features of a family with a PSEN1 mutation that has been reported previously, without autopsy confirmation, in a single Greek family whose affected members presented with memory loss in their thirties, as well as variable limb spasticity and seizures.
Methods
We prospectively evaluated two children (son and daughter) with EOFAD and reviewed medical records on their mother. Archival material from the autopsy of the mother was reviewed and postmortem studies were performed on the brain of the daughter.
Results
All three individuals in this family had disease onset in their thirties, with cognitive deficits in multiple domains, including memory, language and attention, as well as less common features such as spastic dysarthria, limb spasticity and seizures. At autopsy both the mother and her daughter had pathologic findings of AD, as well as histological evidence of corticospinal tract degeneration. Genetic studies revealed a mutation in PSEN1 leading to an asparagine to serine substitution at amino acid residue 135 (N135S) in presenilin-1.
Conclusions
This is the first description of neuropathologic findings in EOFAD due to N135S PSEN1 mutation. The clinical phenotype was remarkable for spastic dysarthria, limb spasticity and seizures, in addition to more typical features of EOFAD.
doi:10.1097/WAD.0b013e3181732399
PMCID: PMC2750842  PMID: 18580586
Alzheimer disease; Genetics; Neuropathology; Presenilin; Spasticity
6.  Plasma progranulin levels predict progranulin mutation status in frontotemporal dementia patients and asymptomatic family members 
Brain  2009;132(3):583-591.
Mutations in the progranulin gene (GRN) are an important cause of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) with ubiquitin and TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP43)-positive pathology. The clinical presentation associated with GRN mutations is heterogeneous and may include clinical probable Alzheimer's disease. All GRN mutations identified thus far cause disease through a uniform disease mechanism, i.e. the loss of functional GRN or haploinsufficiency. To determine if expression of GRN in plasma could predict GRN mutation status and could be used as a biological marker, we optimized a GRN ELISA and studied plasma samples of a consecutive clinical FTLD series of 219 patients, 70 control individuals, 72 early-onset probable Alzheimer's disease patients and nine symptomatic and 18 asymptomatic relatives of GRN mutation families. All FTLD patients with GRN loss-of-function mutations showed significantly reduced levels of GRN in plasma to about one third of the levels observed in non-GRN carriers and control individuals (P < 0.001). No overlap in distributions of GRN levels was observed between the eight GRN loss-of-function mutation carriers (range: 53–94 ng/ml) and 191 non-GRN mutation carriers (range: 115–386 ng/ml). Similar low levels of GRN were identified in asymptomatic GRN mutation carriers. Importantly, ELISA analyses also identified one probable Alzheimer's disease patient (1.4%) carrying a loss-of-function mutation in GRN. Biochemical analyses further showed that the GRN ELISA only detects full-length GRN, no intermediate granulin fragments. This study demonstrates that using a GRN ELISA in plasma, pathogenic GRN mutations can be accurately detected in symptomatic and asymptomatic carriers. The ∼75% reduction in full-length GRN, suggests an unbalanced GRN metabolism in loss-of-function mutation carriers whereby more GRN is processed into granulins. We propose that plasma GRN levels could be used as a reliable and inexpensive tool to identify all GRN mutation carriers in early-onset dementia populations and asymptomatic at-risk individuals.
doi:10.1093/brain/awn352
PMCID: PMC2664450  PMID: 19158106
Progranulin; ELISA; frontotemporal lobar degeneration; Alzheimer's disease
7.  Novel Mutations in TARDBP (TDP-43) in Patients with Familial Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis 
PLoS Genetics  2008;4(9):e1000193.
The TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43) has been identified as the major disease protein in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitin inclusions (FTLD-U), defining a novel class of neurodegenerative conditions: the TDP-43 proteinopathies. The first pathogenic mutations in the gene encoding TDP-43 (TARDBP) were recently reported in familial and sporadic ALS patients, supporting a direct role for TDP-43 in neurodegeneration. In this study, we report the identification and functional analyses of two novel and one known mutation in TARDBP that we identified as a result of extensive mutation analyses in a cohort of 296 patients with variable neurodegenerative diseases associated with TDP-43 histopathology. Three different heterozygous missense mutations in exon 6 of TARDBP (p.M337V, p.N345K, and p.I383V) were identified in the analysis of 92 familial ALS patients (3.3%), while no mutations were detected in 24 patients with sporadic ALS or 180 patients with other TDP-43–positive neurodegenerative diseases. The presence of p.M337V, p.N345K, and p.I383V was excluded in 825 controls and 652 additional sporadic ALS patients. All three mutations affect highly conserved amino acid residues in the C-terminal part of TDP-43 known to be involved in protein-protein interactions. Biochemical analysis of TDP-43 in ALS patient cell lines revealed a substantial increase in caspase cleaved fragments, including the ∼25 kDa fragment, compared to control cell lines. Our findings support TARDBP mutations as a cause of ALS. Based on the specific C-terminal location of the mutations and the accumulation of a smaller C-terminal fragment, we speculate that TARDBP mutations may cause a toxic gain of function through novel protein interactions or intracellular accumulation of TDP-43 fragments leading to apoptosis.
Author Summary
The abnormal accumulation of disease proteins in neuronal cells of the brain is a characteristic feature of many neurodegenerative diseases. Rare mutations in the genes that encode the accumulating proteins have been identified in these disorders and are crucial for the development of cell and animal models used to study neurodegeneration. Recently, the TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43) was identified as the disease accumulating protein in patients with frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitin inclusions (FTLD-U) and in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). TDP-43 was also found in the brains of 20–30% of patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD). Here, we evaluated whether mutations in TDP-43 cause disease in a cohort of 296 patients presenting with FTLD, ALS or AD. We identified three missense mutations in three out of 92 familial ALS patients (3.3%), and no mutations in AD or FTLD patients. All the identified mutations clustered in exon 6, which codes for a highly conserved region in the C-terminal part of the TDP-43 protein, which is known to be involved in the interaction of TDP-43 with other proteins. We conclude that mutations in TDP-43 are a rare cause of familial ALS, but so far are not found in other neurodegenerative diseases.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1000193
PMCID: PMC2527686  PMID: 18802454
8.  Common variation in the miR-659 binding-site of GRN is a major risk factor for TDP43-positive frontotemporal dementia 
Human Molecular Genetics  2008;17(23):3631-3642.
Loss-of-function mutations in progranulin (GRN) cause ubiquitin- and TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43)-positive frontotemporal dementia (FTLD-U), a progressive neurodegenerative disease affecting ∼10% of early-onset dementia patients. Here we expand the role of GRN in FTLD-U and demonstrate that a common genetic variant (rs5848), located in the 3′-untranslated region (UTR) of GRN in a binding-site for miR-659, is a major susceptibility factor for FTLD-U. In a series of pathologically confirmed FTLD-U patients without GRN mutations, we show that carriers homozygous for the T-allele of rs5848 have a 3.2-fold increased risk to develop FTLD-U compared with homozygous C-allele carriers (95% CI: 1.50–6.73). We further demonstrate that miR-659 can regulate GRN expression in vitro, with miR-659 binding more efficiently to the high risk T-allele of rs5848 resulting in augmented translational inhibition of GRN. A significant reduction in GRN protein was observed in homozygous T-allele carriers in vivo, through biochemical and immunohistochemical methods, mimicking the effect of heterozygous loss-of-function GRN mutations. In support of these findings, the neuropathology of homozygous rs5848 T-allele carriers frequently resembled the pathological FTLD-U subtype of GRN mutation carriers. We suggest that the expression of GRN is regulated by miRNAs and that common genetic variability in a miRNA binding-site can significantly increase the risk for FTLD-U. Translational regulation by miRNAs may represent a common mechanism underlying complex neurodegenerative disorders.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddn257
PMCID: PMC2581433  PMID: 18723524
9.  Phosphodiesterase 4D and 5-Lipoxygenase Activating Protein in Ischemic Stroke 
Annals of neurology  2005;58(3):351-361.
Risk for ischemic stroke is mediated by both environmental and genetic factors. Although several environmental exposures have been implicated, relatively little is known about the genetic basis of predisposition to this disease. Recent studies in Iceland identified risk polymorphisms in two putative candidate genes for ischemic stroke: phosphodiesterase 4D (PDE4D) and 5-lipoxygenase activating protein (ALOX5AP). A collection of North American sibling pairs concordant for ischemic stroke and two cohorts of prospectively ascertained North American ischemic stroke cases and control subjects were used for evaluation of PDE4D and ALOX5AP. Although no evidence supported linkage of ischemic stroke with either of the two candidate genes, single-nucleotide polymorphisms and haplotypic associations were observed between PDE4D and ischemic stroke. There was no evidence of association between variants of ALOX5AP and ischemic stroke. These data suggest that common variants in PDE4D may contribute to the genetic risk for ischemic stroke in multiple populations.
doi:10.1002/ana.20585
PMCID: PMC1774984  PMID: 16130105
10.  The Ischemic Stroke Genetics Study (ISGS) Protocol 
BMC Neurology  2003;3:4.
Background
The molecular basis for the genetic risk of ischemic stroke is likely to be multigenic and influenced by environmental factors. Several small case-control studies have suggested associations between ischemic stroke and polymorphisms of genes that code for coagulation cascade proteins and platelet receptors. Our aim is to investigate potential associations between hemostatic gene polymorphisms and ischemic stroke, with particular emphasis on detailed characterization of the phenotype.
Methods/Design
The Ischemic Stroke Genetic Study is a prospective, multicenter genetic association study in adults with recent first-ever ischemic stroke confirmed with computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging. Patients are evaluated at academic medical centers in the United States and compared with sex- and age-matched controls. Stroke subtypes are determined by central blinded adjudication using standardized, validated mechanistic and syndromic classification systems. The panel of genes to be tested for polymorphisms includes β-fibrinogen and platelet glycoprotein Ia, Iba, and IIb/IIIa. Immortalized cell lines are created to allow for time- and cost-efficient testing of additional candidate genes in the future.
Discussion
The study is designed to minimize survival bias and to allow for exploring associations between specific polymorphisms and individual subtypes of ischemic stroke. The data set will also permit the study of genetic determinants of stroke outcome. Having cell lines will permit testing of future candidate risk factor genes.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-3-4
PMCID: PMC184375  PMID: 12848902

Results 1-11 (11)