Expansions of the non-coding GGGGCC hexanucleotide repeat in the chromosome 9 open reading frame 72 (C9ORF72) gene were recently identified as the long sought-after cause of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) on chromosome 9p. In this study we aimed to determine whether the length of the normal - unexpanded - allele of the GGGGCC repeat in C9ORF72 plays a role in the presentation of disease or affects age at onset in C9ORF72 mutation carriers. We also studied whether the GGGGCC repeat length confers risk or affects age at onset in FTD and ALS patients without C9ORF72 repeat expansions. C9ORF72 genotyping was performed in 580 FTD, 995 ALS and 160 FTD-ALS patients and 1444 controls, leading to the identification of 211 patients with pathogenic C9ORF72 repeat expansions and an accurate quantification of the length of the normal alleles in all patients and controls. No meaningful association between the repeat length of the normal alleles of the GGGGCC repeat in C9ORF72 and disease phenotype or age at onset was observed in C9ORF72 mutation carriers or non-mutation carriers.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Frontotemporal Dementia; C9ORF72; Repeat-expansion disease; Association study
White matter hyperintensities (WMHs) associate with both cognitive slowing and motor dysfunction in the neurologically normal elderly. A full understanding of the pathology underlying this clinicoradiologic finding is currently lacking in autopsy-confirmed normal brains. To determine the histopathologic basis of WMH seen on MRI, we studied the relationship between postmortem fluid-attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR) intensity and neuropathologic markers of white matter lesions (WMLs) that correspond to WMH in cognitively normal aging brains. Samples of periventricular (n = 24), subcortical (n = 26), and normal-appearing white matter (NAWM, n = 31) from 4 clinically and pathologically-confirmed normal cases were examined. FLAIR intensity, vacuolation, and myelin basic protein (MBP) immunoreactivity loss were significantly higher in periventricular WML vs. subcortical WML; both were higher than in NAWM. The subcortical WML and NAWM had significantly less axonal loss, astrocytic burden, microglial density, and oligodendrocyte loss than the periventricular WML. Thus, vacuolation, myelin density and small vessel density contribute to the rarefaction of white matter whereas axonal density, oligodendrocyte density, astroglial burden and microglial density did not. These data suggest that the age-related loss of MBP and a decrease in small vessel density, may contribute to vacuolation of white matter. The vacuolation enables interstitial fluid to accumulate, which contributes to the prolonged T2 relaxation and elevated FLAIR intensity in the white matter.
Digital microscopy; Fluid attenuated inversion recovery; Normal aging; Oligodendrocytes; Postmortem magnetic resonance imaging; White matter
The clinical features of the genetically determined forms of familial Parkinson’s disease (PD) have been described in multiple reports, but there have been few comparative neuropathologic studies. Five familial PD cases, with mutations in SNCA, were matched for age, sex, and Alzheimer type pathology with sporadic PD cases. Immunohistochemistry for phospho-tau and α-synuclein was performed in 8 brain regions. The frequency of tau pathology and the morphologic features of α-synuclein pathology in familial PD were compared with sporadic PD using semi-quantitative methods. In familial PD, there were significantly more tau positive extra-perikaryal spheroid-like and thread-like lesions than in the sporadic PD. There was no significant difference in the amount of α-synuclein positive neuronal perikaryal pathology between familial PD and sporadic PD, but α-synuclein positive oligodendroglial and neuritic lesions were significantly greater in familial PD compared to sporadic PD. In the substantia nigra, familial PD had more marked neuronal loss and fewer residential neurons with Lewy bodies than the sporadic PD, suggesting a close relationship between the severity of neuronal loss and Lewy body formation. The results show a diversity of pathological features of genetically determined familial PD, and they draw attention to the possible role of tau protein in neurodegeneration. Moreover, the presence of oligodendroglial inclusions at the light and electron microscopic levels in familial PD suggests that PD and multiple system atrophy form a continuum of α-synuclein pathology.
Pathological features; Lewy bodies; familial Parkinson’s disease; SNCA mutations
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) can be classified based on the relative density of neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) in the hippocampus and association cortices into three subtypes: typical AD, hippocampal-sparing AD (HpSp AD), and limbic-predominant AD (LP AD). AD subtypes not only have pathologic, but also demographic, clinical, and genetic differences. Neurofibrillary tangle-predominant dementia (NFTD), a disorder with NFTs relatively restricted to limbic structures, shares this feature with LP AD raising the possibility that NFTD is a variant of AD. The objective criteria for pathologic diagnosis of NFTD are not available. A goal of this study was to design a mathematical algorithm that could diagnose NFTD from NFT and senile plaque (SP) counts in hippocampus and association cortices, analogous to that used to subtype AD. Moreover, we aimed to compare pathologic, demographic, clinical, and genetic features of NFTD (n = 18) with LP AD (n = 19), as well as the other AD subtypes, typical AD (n = 52) and HpSp AD (n = 17). Using digital microscopy, we confirmed that burden of phospho-tau (CP13) and of an NFT conformational epitope (Ab39) correlated with NFT densities and showed expected patterns across AD subtypes. HpSp AD had the highest and LP AD had the lowest burden of cortical CP13 and Ab39 immunoreactivity. On the other hand, cortical β-amyloid burden did not significantly differ between AD subtypes. Semi-quantitative assessment of SPs in the basal ganglia did show HpSp AD to have significantly more frequent presence of SPs compared to typical AD, which was more frequent than LP AD. Compared to LP AD, NFTD had an older age at disease onset and shorter disease duration, as well as lower Braak NFT stage. NFTs and SPs on thioflavin-S fluorescent microscopy, as well as CP13, Ab39, and Aβ immunoreactivities were very low in the frontal cortex of NFTD, differentiating NFTD from AD subtypes, including LP AD. MAPT H1H1 genotype frequency was high (~70 %) in NFTD and LP AD, and similar to typical AD, while APOE ε4 carrier state was low in NFTD. While it shares clinical similarities with regard to female sex predominance, onset in advanced age, and a slow cognitive decline, NFTD has significant pathologic differences from LP AD, suggesting that it may not merely be a variant of AD.
Alzheimer disease; Neurofibrillary tangle-predominant dementia; APOE; Digital microscopy; MAPT; Neurofibrillary tangles; Amyloid plaques; Basal ganglia
Individuals carrying (GGGGCC) expanded repeats in the C9orf72 gene represent a significant portion of patients suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Elucidating how these expanded repeats cause “c9FTD/ALS” has since become an important goal of the field. Toward this end, we sought to investigate whether epigenetic changes are responsible for the decrease in C9orf72 expression levels observed in c9FTD/ALS patients. We obtained brain tissue from ten c9FTD/ALS individuals, nine FTD/ALS cases without a C9orf72 repeat expansion, and nine disease control participants, and generated fibroblastoid cell lines from seven C9orf72 expanded repeat carriers and seven participants carrying normal alleles. Chromatin immunoprecipitation using antibodies for histone H3 and H4 trimethylated at lysines 9 (H3K9), 27 (H3K27), 79 (H3K79), and 20 (H4K20) revealed that these trimethylated residues bind strongly to C9orf72 expanded repeats in brain tissue, but not to non-pathogenic repeats. Our finding that C9orf72 mRNA levels are reduced in the frontal cortices and cerebella of c9FTD/ALS patients is consistent with trimethylation of these histone residues, an event known to repress gene expression. Moreover, treating repeat carrier-derived fibroblasts with 5-aza-2-deoxycytidine, a DNA and histone demethylating agent, not only decreased C9orf72 binding to trimethylated histone residues, but also increased C9orf72 mRNA expression. Our results provide compelling evidence that trimethylation of lysine residues within histones H3 and H4 is a novel mechanism involved in reducing C9orf72 mRNA expression in expanded repeat carriers. Of importance, we show that mutant C9orf72 binding to trimethylated H3K9 and H3K27 is detectable in blood of c9FTD/ALS patients. Confirming these exciting results using blood from a larger cohort of patients may establish this novel epigenetic event as a biomarker for c9FTD/ALS.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00401-013-1199-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Frontotemporal dementia; C9orf72; Epigenetic modification; Repeat expansion; Histone methylation
Reactive gliosis surrounding amyloid β (Aβ) plaques is an early feature of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathogenesis and may signify activation of the innate immune system in an attempt to clear or neutralize Aβ aggregates. In order to evaluate the role of IFNγ mediated neuroinflammation on the evolution of Aβ pathology in transgenic mice, we have expressed murine IFNγ (mIFNγ) in the brains of amyloid β precursor protein (APP) transgenic mice using recombinant adeno-associated virus serotype 1. Expression of mIFNγ in brains of APP TgCRND8 mice results in robust non-cell autonomous activation of microglia and astrocytes, and significant suppression of Aβ deposition. mIFNγ expression had no significant effects on APP levels, APP processing or steady state Aβ levels in vivo. On the other hand, mIFNγ expression upregulated MHCII and CD11c levels and early components of the complement cascade in vivo. Taken together, these results suggest that mIFNγ expression in the brain suppresses Aβ accumulation through synergistic effects of reactive gliosis and complement activation by promoting opsonization and phagocytosis of Aβ aggregates.
Amyloid β; IFNγ; Neuroinflammation; complement; recombinant adeno-associated virus
Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) are devastating neurodegenerative disorders with clinical, genetic, and neuropathological overlap. A hexanucleotide (GGGGCC) repeat expansion in a non-coding region of C9ORF72 is the major genetic cause of both diseases. The mechanisms by which this repeat expansion causes “c9FTD/ALS” are not definitively known, but RNA-mediated toxicity is a likely culprit. RNA transcripts of the expanded GGGGCC repeat form nuclear foci in c9FTD/ALS, and also undergo repeat-associated non-ATG (RAN) translation resulting in the production of three aggregation-prone proteins. The goal of this study was to examine whether antisense transcripts resulting from bidirectional transcription of the expanded repeat behave in a similar manner. We show that ectopic expression of (CCCCGG)66 in cultured cells results in foci formation. Using novel polyclonal antibodies for the detection of possible (CCCCGG)exp RAN proteins [poly(PR), poly(GP) and poly(PA)], we validated that (CCCCGG)66 is also subject to RAN translation in transfected cells. Of importance, foci composed of antisense transcripts are observed in the frontal cortex, spinal cord and cerebellum of c9FTD/ALS cases, and neuronal inclusions of poly(PR), poly(GP) and poly(PA) are present in various brain tissues in c9FTD/ALS, but not in other neurodegenerative diseases, including CAG repeat disorders. Of note, RNA foci and poly(GP) inclusions infrequently co-occur in the same cell, suggesting these events represent two distinct ways in which the C9ORF72 repeat expansion may evoke neurotoxic effects. These findings provide mechanistic insight into the pathogenesis of c9FTD/ALS, and have significant implications for therapeutic strategies.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00401-013-1192-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Bidirectional transcription; C9ORF72; Expanded repeat; Frontotemporal dementia; Repeat-associated non-ATG translation; RNA foci
Mutations in the gene encoding leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) are the most frequent cause of familial Parkinson’s disease (PD). The neuropathology of LRRK2-related PD is heterogeneous and can include aberrant tau phosphorylation or neurofibrillary tau pathology. Recently, LRRK2 has been shown to phosphorylate tau in vitro; however, the major epitopes phosphorylated by LRRK2 and the physiological or pathogenic consequences of these modifications in vivo are unknown. Using mass spectrometry, we identified multiple sites on recombinant tau that are phosphorylated by LRRK2 in vitro, including pT149 and pT153, which are phospho-epitopes that to date have been largely unexplored. Importantly, we demonstrate that expression of transgenic LRRK2 in a mouse model of tauopathy increased the aggregation of insoluble tau and its phosphorylation at T149, T153, T205, and S199/S202/T205 epitopes. These findings indicate that tau can be a LRRK2 substrate and that this interaction can enhance salient features of human disease.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00401-013-1188-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Atypical variants of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) have been pathologically defined based on the distribution of neurofibrillary tangles; hippocampal sparing (HpSp) AD shows minimal involvement of the hippocampus and limbic predominant (LP) AD shows neurofibrillary tangles restricted to the medial temporal lobe. We aimed to determine whether MRI patterns of atrophy differ across HpSp AD, LP AD and typical AD, and whether imaging could be a useful predictor of pathological subtype during life.
In this case-control study, we identified 177 patients who had been prospectively followed in the Mayo Clinic Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, were demented during life, had AD pathology at autopsy (Braak stage ≥ IV, intermediate-high probability AD) and an antemortem MRI. Cases were assigned to one of three pathological subtypes (HpSp n=19, typical n=125, or LP AD n=33) based on neurofibrillary tangle counts and their ratio in association cortices to hippocampus, without reference to neuronal loss. Voxel-based morphometry and atlas-based parcellation were used to compare patterns of grey matter loss across groups, and to controls.
The severity of medial temporal and cortical grey matter atrophy differed across subtypes. The most severe medial temporal atrophy was observed in LP AD, followed by typical AD, and then HpSp AD. Conversely, the most severe cortical atrophy was observed in HpSp AD, followed by typical AD, and then LP AD. A ratio of hippocampal-to-cortical volume provided the best discrimination across all three AD subtypes. The majority of typical AD (98/125;78%) and LP AD (31/33;94%) subjects, but only 8/19 (42%) of the HpSp AD subjects, presented with a dominant amnestic syndrome.
Patterns of atrophy on MRI differ across the pathological subtypes of AD, suggesting that MR regional volumetrics reliably track the distribution of neurofibrillary tangle pathology and can predict pathological subtype during life.
US National Institutes of Health (National Institute on Aging)
We investigated the subcellular distribution of NEP protein and activity in brains of human individuals with no cognitive impairment (NCI), mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and AD dementia, as well as double transgenic mice and human neuronal cell line treated with Aβ and 4-hydroxy-2-nonenal (HNE). Total cortical neuronal-related NEP was significantly increased in MCI compared to NCI brains. NeuN was decreased in both MCI and AD, consistent with neuronal loss occurring in MCI and AD. Negative relationship between NEP protein and NeuN in MCI brains, and positive correlation between NEP and pan-cadherin in NCI and MCI brains, suggesting the increased NEP expression in NCI and MCI might be due to membrane associated NEP in non-neuronal cells. In subcellular extracts, NEP protein decreased in cytoplasmic fractions in MCI and AD, but increased in membrane fractions, with a significant increase in the membrane/cytoplasmic ratio of NEP protein in AD brains. By contrast, NEP activity was decreased in AD. Similar results were observed in AD-mimic transgenic mice. Studies of SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma showed an up-regulation of NEP protein in the cytoplasmic compartment induced by HNE and Aβ; however, NEP activity decreased in cytoplasmic fractions. Activity of NEP in membrane fractions increased at 48 hours and then significantly decreased after treatment with HNE and Aβ. The cytoplasmic/membrane ratio of NEP protein increased at 24 hours and then decreased in both HNE and Aβ treated cells. Both HNE and Aβ up-regulate NEP expression, but NEP enzyme activity did not show the same increase, possibly indicating immature cytoplasmic NEP is less active than membrane associated NEP. These observations indicate that modulation of NEP protein levels and its subcellular location influence the net proteolytic activity and this complex association might participate in deficiency of Aβ degradation that is associated with amyloid deposition in AD.
Alzheimer’s disease; amyloid-β; Aβ degrading enzymes; neprilysin; subcellular compartments; Aβ clearance
We report that CNS directed expression of Interferon (IFN) -γ results in basal ganglia calcification, reminiscent of human idiopathic basal ganglia calcification (IBGC), and nigrostriatal degeneration. Our results show that IFN-γ mediates age-progressive nigrostriatal degeneration in the absence of exogenous stressors. Further study of this model may provide unique insight into selective nigrostriatal degeneration in human IBGC and other Parkinson syndromes.
IFN-γ; gliosis; nigrostriatal degeneration; basal ganglia calcification
Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) is the second most common cause of neurodegenerative dementia after Alzheimer's disease (AD). Our objective was to determine whether the 11C–Pittsburgh Compound-B (PiB) retention and regional hypometabolism on PET and regional cortical atrophy on MRI are complementary in characterizing patients with DLB and differentiating them from AD. We studied age, gender and education matched patients with a clinical diagnosis of DLB (n=21), AD (n=21), and cognitively normal subjects (n=42). Hippocampal atrophy, global cortical PiB retention and occipital lobe metabolism in combination distinguished DLB from AD better than any of the measurements alone (area under the receiver operating characteristic=0.98).Five of the DLB and AD patients who underwent autopsy were distinguished through multimodality imaging. These data demonstrate that MRI and PiB PET contribute to characterizing the distinct pathological mechanisms in patients with AD compared to DLB. Occipital and posterior parietotemporal lobe hypometabolism is a distinguishing feature of DLB and this regional hypometabolic pattern is independent of the amyloid pathology.
Dementia with Lewy bodies; MRI; PET; FDG; PiB; Alzheimer's disease
The accumulation of hyperphosphorylated tau in neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) is a neuropathological hallmark of tauopathies, including Alzheimer's disease (AD) and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, but effective therapies directly targeting the tau protein are currently lacking. Herein, we describe a novel mechanism in which the acetylation of tau on KXGS motifs inhibits phosphorylation on this same motif, and also prevents tau aggregation. Using a site-specific antibody to detect acetylation of KXGS motifs, we demonstrate that these sites are hypoacetylated in patients with AD, as well as a mouse model of tauopathy, suggesting that loss of acetylation on KXGS motifs renders tau vulnerable to pathogenic insults. Furthermore, we identify histone deacetylase 6 (HDAC6) as the enzyme responsible for the deacetylation of these residues, and provide proof of concept that acute treatment with a selective and blood–brain barrier-permeable HDAC6 inhibitor enhances acetylation and decreases phosphorylation on tau's KXGS motifs in vivo. As such, we have uncovered a novel therapeutic pathway that can be manipulated to block the formation of pathogenic tau species in disease.
To describe the brain MRI characteristics of hereditary diffuse leukoencephalopathy with spheroids (HDLS) with known mutations in the colony-stimulating factor 1 receptor gene (CSF1R) on chromosome 5.
We reviewed 20 brain MRI scans of 15 patients with autopsy- or biopsy-verified HDLS and CSF1R mutations. We assessed sagittal T1-, axial T1-, T2-, proton density-weighted and axial fluid-attenuated inversion recovery images for distribution of white matter lesions (WMLs), gray matter involvement, and atrophy. We calculated a severity score based on a point system (0−57) for each MRI scan.
Of the patients, 93% (14 of 15) demonstrated localized WMLs with deep and subcortical involvement, whereas one patient revealed generalized WMLs. All WMLs were bilateral but asymmetric and predominantly frontal. Fourteen patients had a rapidly progressive clinical course with an initial MRI mean total severity score of 16.7 points (range 10−33.5). Gray matter pathology and brainstem atrophy were absent, and the corticospinal tracts were involved late in the disease course. There was no enhancement, and there was minimal cerebellar pathology.
Recognition of the typical MRI patterns of HDLS and the use of an MRI severity score might help during the diagnostic evaluation to characterize the natural history and to monitor potential future treatments. Indicators of rapid disease progression were symptomatic disease onset before 45 years, female sex, WMLs extending beyond the frontal regions, a MRI severity score greater than 15 points, and mutation type of deletion.
To determine the association between the focal atrophy measures on antemortem MRI and postmortem neuropathologic classification of dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) using the Third Report of the DLB Consortium criteria.
We retrospectively identified 56 subjects who underwent antemortem MRI and had Lewy body (LB) pathology at autopsy. Subjects were pathologically classified as high (n = 25), intermediate (n = 22), and low likelihood DLB (n = 9) according to the Third Report of the DLB Consortium criteria. We included 2 additional pathologic comparison groups without LBs: one with low likelihood Alzheimer disease (AD) (control; n = 27) and one with high likelihood AD (n = 33). The associations between MRI-based volumetric measurements and the pathologic classification of DLB were tested with analysis of covariance by adjusting for age, sex, and MRI-to-death interval.
Antemortem hippocampal and amygdalar volumes increased from low to intermediate to high likelihood DLB (p < 0.001, trend test). Smaller hippocampal and amygdalar volumes were associated with higher Braak neurofibrillary tangle stage (p < 0.001). Antemortem dorsal mesopontine gray matter (GM) atrophy was found in those with high likelihood DLB compared with normal control subjects (p = 0.004) and those with AD (p = 0.01). Dorsal mesopontine GM volume decreased from low to intermediate to high likelihood DLB (p = 0.01, trend test).
Antemortem hippocampal and amygdalar volumes increase and dorsal mesopontine GM volumes decrease in patients with low to high likelihood DLB according to the Third Report of the DLB Consortium criteria. Patients with high likelihood DLB typically have normal hippocampal volumes but have atrophy in the dorsal mesopontine GM nuclei.
Nicastrin (NCSTN) is a component of the γ-secretase complex and therefore potentially a candidate risk gene for Alzheimer's disease. Here, we have developed a novel functional genomics methodology to express common locus haplotypes to assess functional differences. DNA recombination was used to engineer 5 bacterial artificial chromosomes (BACs) to each express a different haplotype of the NCSTN locus. Each NCSTN-BAC was delivered to knockout nicastrin (Ncstn−/−) cells and clonal NCSTN-BAC+/Ncstn−/− cell lines were created for functional analyses. We showed that all NCSTN-BAC haplotypes expressed nicastrin protein and rescued γ-secretase activity and amyloid beta (Aβ) production in NCSTN-BAC+/Ncstn−/− lines. We then showed that genetic variation at the NCSTN locus affected alternative splicing in human postmortem brain tissue. However, there was no robust functional difference between clonal cell lines rescued by each of the 5 different haplotypes. Finally, there was no statistically significant association of NCSTN with disease risk in the 4 cohorts. We therefore conclude that it is unlikely that common variation at the NCSTN locus is a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease.
Nicastrin; Haplotype variation; Functional genomics; Alzheimer's disease; γ-Secretase complex
Recent genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of late-onset Alzheimer disease (LOAD) identified 9 novel risk loci. Discovery of functional variants within genes at these loci is required to confirm their role in Alzheimer disease (AD). Single nucleotide polymorphisms that influence gene expression (eSNPs) constitute an important class of functional variants. We therefore investigated the influence of the novel LOAD risk loci on human brain gene expression.
We measured gene expression levels in the cerebellum and temporal cortex of autopsied AD subjects and those with other brain pathologies (∼400 total subjects). To determine whether any of the novel LOAD risk variants are eSNPs, we tested their cis-association with expression of 6 nearby LOAD candidate genes detectable in human brain (ABCA7, BIN1, CLU, MS4A4A, MS4A6A, PICALM) and an additional 13 genes ±100 kb of these SNPs. To identify additional eSNPs that influence brain gene expression levels of the novel candidate LOAD genes, we identified SNPs ±100 kb of their location and tested for cis-associations.
CLU rs11136000 (p = 7.81 × 10−4) and MS4A4A rs2304933/rs2304935 (p = 1.48 × 10−4–1.86 × 10−4) significantly influence temporal cortex expression levels of these genes. The LOAD-protective CLU and risky MS4A4A locus alleles associate with higher brain levels of these genes. There are other cis-variants that significantly influence brain expression of CLU and ABCA7 (p = 4.01 × 10−5–9.09 × 10−9), some of which also associate with AD risk (p = 2.64 × 10−2–6.25 × 10−5).
CLU and MS4A4A eSNPs may at least partly explain the LOAD risk association at these loci. CLU and ABCA7 may harbor additional strong eSNPs. These results have implications in the search for functional variants at the novel LOAD risk loci.
Tauopathies are a group of neurological disorders characterized by the presence of intraneuronal hyperphosphorylated and filamentous tau. Mutations in the tau gene have been found in kindred with tauopathy. The expression of the human tau mutant in transgenic mice induced neurodegeneration, indicating that tau plays a central pathological role. However, the molecular mechanism leading to tau-mediated neurodegeneration is poorly understood. To gain insights into the role that tau plays in neurodegeneration, human tau proteins were immunoprecipitated from brain lysates of the tauopathy mouse model JNPL3, which develops neurodegeneration in age-dependent manner. In the present work, a novel EF-hand domain-containing protein was found associated with tau proteins in brain lysate of 12-month-old JNPL3 mice. The association between tau proteins and the novel identified protein appears to be induced by the neurodegeneration process as these two proteins were not found associated in young JNPL3 mice. Consistently, the novel protein co-purified with the pathological sarkosyl insoluble tau in terminally ill JNPL3 mice. Calcium-binding assays demonstrated that this protein binds calcium effectively. Finally, the association between tau and the novel calcium-binding protein is conserved in human and enriched in Alzheimer's disease brain. Taken together, the identification of a novel calcium-binding protein associated with tau protein in terminally ill tauopathy mouse model and its confirmation in human brain lysate suggests that this association may play an important physiological and/or pathological role.
Alzheimer's disease; calcium; EF-hand domain; tau; tauopathy
A rare variant in the Triggering Receptor Expressed on Myeloid cells 2 (TREM2) gene has been reported to be a genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease by two independent groups (Odds ratio between 2.9-4.5). Given the key role of TREM2 in the effective phagocytosis of apoptotic neuronal cells by microglia, we hypothesized that dysfunction of TREM2 may play a more generalized role in neurodegeneration. With this in mind we set out to assess the genetic association of the Alzheimer’s disease-related risk variant in TREM2 (rs75932628, p.R47H) with other related neurodegenerative disorders.
The study included 609 patients with frontotemporal dementia, 765 with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, 1493 with Parkinson’s disease, 772 with progressive supranuclear palsy, 448 with ischemic stroke and 1957 controls subjects free of neurodegenerative disease. A significant association was observed for the TREM2 p.R47H substitution in susceptibility to frontotemporal dementia (OR = 5.06; p-value = 0.001) and Parkinson’s disease (OR = 2.67; p-value = 0.026), while no evidence of association with risk of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, progressive supranuclear palsy or ischemic stroke was observed.
Our results suggest that the TREM2 p.R47H substitution is a risk factor for frontotemporal dementia and Parkinson’s disease in addition to Alzheimer’s disease. These findings suggest a more general role for TREM2 dysfunction in neurodegeneration, which could be related to its role in the immune response.
TREM2; Frontotemporal dementia; Parkinson disease; Genetic association
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.
GRB-associated binding protein 2 (GAB2) represents a compelling genome-wide association signal for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (LOAD) with reported odds ratios (ORs) ranging from 0.75–0.85. We tested eight GAB2 variants in four North American Caucasian case-control series (2,316 LOAD, 2,538 controls) for association with LOAD. Meta-analyses revealed ORs ranging from (0.61–1.20) with no significant association (all p>0.32). Four variants were hetergeneous across the populations (all p<0.02) due to a potentially inflated effect size (OR = 0.61–0.66) only observed in the smallest series (702 LOAD, 209 controls). Despite the lack of association in our series, the previously reported protective association for GAB2 remained after meta-analyses of our data with all available previously published series (11,952-22,253 samples; OR = 0.82–0.88; all p<0.04). Using a freely available database of lymphoblastoid cell lines we found that protective GAB2 variants were associated with increased GAB2 expression (p = 9.5×10−7−9.3×10−6). We next measured GAB2 mRNA levels in 249 brains and found that decreased neurofibrillary tangle (r = −0.34, p = 0.0006) and senile plaque counts (r = −0.32, p = 0.001) were both good predictors of increased GAB2 mRNA levels albeit that sex (r = −0.28, p = 0.005) may have been a contributing factor. In summary, we hypothesise that GAB2 variants that are protective against LOAD in some populations may act functionally to increase GAB2 mRNA levels (in lymphoblastoid cells) and that increased GAB2 mRNA levels are associated with significantly decreased LOAD pathology. These findings support the hypothesis that Gab2 may protect neurons against LOAD but due to significant population heterogeneity, it is still unclear whether this protection is detectable at the genetic level.
Recent research in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) field has been focused on the potential role of the amyloid-β protein that is derived from the transmembrane amyloid precursor protein (APP) in directly mediating cognitive impairment in AD. Transgenic mouse models overexpressing APP develop robust AD-like amyloid pathology in the brain and show various levels of cognitive decline. In the present study, we examined the cognition of the BRI2-Aβ transgenic mouse model in which secreted extracellular Aβ1-40, Aβ1-42 or both Aβ1-40/Aβ1-42 peptides are generated from the BRI-Aβ fusion proteins encoded by the transgenes. BRI2-Aβ mice produce high levels of Aβ peptides and BRI2-Aβ1-42 mice develop amyloid pathology that is similar to the pathology observed in mutant human APP transgenic models.
Using established behavioral tests that reveal deficits in APP transgenic models, BRI2-Aβ1-42 mice showed completely intact cognitive performance at ages both pre and post amyloid plaque formation. BRI2-Aβ mice producing Aβ1-40 or both peptides were also cognitively intact.
These data indicate that high levels of Aβ1-40 or Aβ1-42, or both produced in the absence of APP overexpression do not reproduce memory deficits observed in APP transgenic mouse models. This outcome is supportive of recent data suggesting that APP processing derivatives or the overexpression of full length APP may contribute to cognitive decline in APP transgenic mouse models. Alternatively, Aβ aggregates may impact cognition by a mechanism that is not fully recapitulated in these BRI2-Aβ mouse models.
Alzheimer’s disease; Mouse models; Amyloid-β; Amyloid plaques; Cognition
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) has been subdivided based on the main pathology found in the brains of affected individuals. When the primary pathology is aggregated, hyperphosphorylated tau, the pathological diagnosis is FTLD-tau. When the primary pathology is cytoplasmic and/or nuclear aggregates of phosphorylated TAR-DNA-binding protein (TDP-43), the pathological diagnosis is FTLD-TDP. Notably, TDP-43 pathology can also occur in conjunction with a number of neurodegenerative disorders; however, unknown environmental and genetic factors may regulate this TDP-43 pathology. Using transgenic mouse models of several diseases of the central nervous system, we explored whether a primary proteinopathy might secondarily drive TDP-43 proteinopathy. We found abnormal, cytoplasmic accumulation of phosphorylated TDP-43 specifically in two tau transgenic models, but TDP-43 pathology was absent in mouse models of Aβ deposition, α-synucleinopathy or Huntington’s disease. Though tau pathology showed considerable overlap with cytoplasmic, phosphorylated TDP-43, tau pathology generally preceded TDP-43 pathology. Biochemical analysis confirmed the presence of TDP-43 abnormalities in the tau mice, which showed increased levels of high molecular weight, soluble TDP-43 and insoluble full-length and ~35 kD TDP-43. These data demonstrate that the neurodegenerative cascade associated with a primary tauopathy in tau transgenic mice can also promote TDP-43 abnormalities. These findings provide the first in vivo models to understand how TDP-43 pathology may arise as a secondary consequence of a primary proteinopathy.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00401-013-1123-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Tau; TDP-43; Mouse; Transgenic; Neuropathology, tauopathy; TDP-43 proteinopathies