Parkinson's disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disease affecting 1–2% in people >60 and 3–4% in people >80. Genome-wide association (GWA) studies have now implicated significant evidence for association in at least 18 genomic regions. We have studied a large PD-meta analysis and identified a significant excess of SNPs (P < 1 × 10−16) that are associated with PD but fall short of the genome-wide significance threshold. This result was independent of variants at the 18 previously implicated regions and implies the presence of additional polygenic risk alleles. To understand how these loci increase risk of PD, we applied a pathway-based analysis, testing for biological functions that were significantly enriched for genes containing variants associated with PD. Analysing two independent GWA studies, we identified that both had a significant excess in the number of functional categories enriched for PD-associated genes (minimum P = 0.014 and P = 0.006, respectively). Moreover, 58 categories were significantly enriched for associated genes in both GWA studies (P < 0.001), implicating genes involved in the ‘regulation of leucocyte/lymphocyte activity’ and also ‘cytokine-mediated signalling’ as conferring an increased susceptibility to PD. These results were unaltered by the exclusion of all 178 genes that were present at the 18 genomic regions previously reported to be strongly associated with PD (including the HLA locus). Our findings, therefore, provide independent support to the strong association signal at the HLA locus and imply that the immune-related genetic susceptibility to PD is likely to be more widespread in the genome than previously appreciated.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and Tourette syndrome (TS) are heritable, neurodevelopmental disorders with a partially shared genetic etiology. This study represents the first genome-wide investigation of large (>500kb), rare (<1%) copy number variants (CNVs) in OCD and the largest genome-wide CNV analysis in TS to date.
The primary analyses utilized a cross-disorder design for 2,699 patients (1,613 ascertained for OCD, 1,086 ascertained for TS) and 1,789 controls. Parental data facilitated a de novo analysis in 348 OCD trios.
Although no global CNV burden was detected in the cross-disorder analysis or in secondary, disease-specific analyses, there was a 3.3-fold increased burden of large deletions previously associated with other neurodevelopmental disorders (p=.09). Half of these neurodevelopmental deletions were located in a single locus, 16p13.11 (5 patient deletions: 0 control deletions, p=0.08 in current study, p=0.025 compared to published controls). Three 16p13.11 deletions were confirmed de novo, providing further support to the etiological significance of this region. The overall OCD de novo rate was 1.4%, which is intermediate between published rates in controls (0.7%) and in autism or schizophrenia (2–4%).
Several converging lines of evidence implicate 16p13.11 deletions in OCD, with weaker evidence for a role in TS. The trend toward increased overall neurodevelopmental CNV burden in TS and OCD suggests that deletions previously associated with other neurodevelopmental disorders may also contribute to these phenotypes.
Tourette syndrome; obsessive-compulsive disorder; copy number variation; genetics; 16p13.11
Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is a complex disorder characterised by a broad range of clinical manifestations, differential pathological signatures, and genetic variability. Mutations in three genes—MAPT, GRN, and C9orf72—have been associated with FTD. We sought to identify novel genetic risk loci associated with the disorder.
We did a two-stage genome-wide association study on clinical FTD, analysing samples from 3526 patients with FTD and 9402 healthy controls. All participants had European ancestry. In the discovery phase (samples from 2154 patients with FTD and 4308 controls), we did separate association analyses for each FTD subtype (behavioural variant FTD, semantic dementia, progressive non-fluent aphasia, and FTD overlapping with motor neuron disease [FTD-MND]), followed by a meta-analysis of the entire dataset. We carried forward replication of the novel suggestive loci in an independent sample series (samples from 1372 patients and 5094 controls) and then did joint phase and brain expression and methylation quantitative trait loci analyses for the associated (p<5 × 10−8) and suggestive single-nucleotide polymorphisms.
We identified novel associations exceeding the genome-wide significance threshold (p<5 × 10−8) that encompassed the HLA locus at 6p21.3 in the entire cohort. We also identified a potential novel locus at 11q14, encompassing RAB38/CTSC, for the behavioural FTD subtype. Analysis of expression and methylation quantitative trait loci data suggested that these loci might affect expression and methylation incis.
Our findings suggest that immune system processes (link to 6p21.3) and possibly lysosomal and autophagy pathways (link to 11q14) are potentially involved in FTD. Our findings need to be replicated to better define the association of the newly identified loci with disease and possibly to shed light on the pathomechanisms contributing to FTD.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and National Institute on Aging, the Wellcome/ MRC Centre on Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s Research UK, and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.
Substantial clinical, pathological and genetic overlap exists between amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). TDP-43 inclusions have been found in both ALS and FTD cases (FTD-TDP). Recently, a repeat expansion in C9orf72 was identified as the causal variant in a proportion of ALS and FTD cases. We sought to identify additional evidence for a common genetic basis for the spectrum of ALS-FTD.
We used published GWAS data of 4,377 ALS patients and 13,017 controls and 435 pathology-proven FTD-TDP cases and 1,414 controls for genotype imputation. Data were analyzed in a joint meta-analysis, by replicating topmost associated hits of one disease in the other, and by using a conservative rank products analysis, allocating equal weight to ALS and FTD-TDP sample sizes.
Meta-analysis identified 19 genome-wide significant single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) at C9orf72 on chromosome 9p21.2 (lowest p=2.6×10−12) and one SNP in UNC13A on chromosome 19p13.11 (p=1.0×10−11) as shared susceptibility loci for ALS and FTD-TDP. Conditioning on the 9p21.2 genotype increased statistical significance at UNC13A. A third signal, on chromosome 8q24.13 at the SPG8 locus coding for strumpellin, (p=3.91×10−7) was replicated in an independent cohort of 4,056 ALS patients and 3,958 controls (p=0.026; combined analysis p=1.01×10−7).
We identified common genetic variants at C9orf72, but in addition in UNC13A that are shared between ALS and FTD. UNC13A provides a novel link between ALS and FTD-TDP, and identifies changes in neurotransmitter release and synaptic function as a converging mechanism in the pathogenesis of ALS and FTD-TDP.
Subjects with incidental Lewy body disease (iLBD) may represent the premotor stage of Parkinson’s disease (PD). To elucidate molecular mechanisms underlying neuronal dysfunction and alpha-synuclein pathology in the premotor phase of PD, we investigated the transcriptome of the substantia nigra (SN) of well-characterized iLBD, PD donors and age-matched controls with Braak alpha-synuclein stage ranging from 0–6. In Braak alpha-synuclein stages 1 and 2, we observed deregulation of pathways linked to axonal degeneration, immune response and endocytosis, including axonal guidance signaling, mTOR signaling, EIF2 signaling and clathrin-mediated endocytosis in the SN. In Braak stages 3 and 4, we observed deregulation of pathways involved in protein translation and cell survival, including mTOR and EIF2 signaling. In Braak stages 5 and 6, we observed deregulation of dopaminergic signaling, axonal guidance signaling and thrombin signaling. Throughout the progression of PD pathology, we observed a deregulation of mTOR, EIF2 and regulation of eIF4 and p70S6K signaling in the SN. Our results indicate that molecular mechanisms related to axonal dysfunction, endocytosis and immune response are an early event in PD pathology, whereas mTOR and EIF2 signaling are impaired throughout disease progression. These pathways may hold the key to altering the disease progression in PD.
Our objective was to design a genotyping platform that would allow rapid genetic characterization of samples in the context of genetic mutations and risk factors associated with common neurodegenerative diseases. The platform needed to be relatively affordable, rapid to deploy, and use a common and accessible technology. Central to this project, we wanted to make the content of the platform open to any investigator without restriction. In designing this array we prioritized a number of types of genetic variability for inclusion, such as known risk alleles, disease-causing mutations, putative risk alleles, and other functionally important variants. The array was primarily designed to allow rapid screening of samples for disease-causing mutations and large population studies of risk factors. Notably, an explicit aim was to make this array widely available to facilitate data sharing across and within diseases. The resulting array, NeuroX, is a remarkably cost and time effective solution for high-quality genotyping. NeuroX comprises a backbone of standard Illumina exome content of approximately 240,000 variants, and over 24,000 custom content variants focusing on neurologic diseases. Data are generated at approximately $50–$60 per sample using a 12-sample format chip and regular Infinium infrastructure; thus, genotyping is rapid and accessible to many investigators. Here, we describe the design of NeuroX, discuss the utility of NeuroX in the analyses of rare and common risk variants, and present quality control metrics and a brief primer for the analysis of NeuroX derived data.
Genotyping; Methods; Genetics; Neurodegeneration; Parkinson’s; Meta-analysis; Imputation
We conducted a meta analysis of Parkinson’s disease genome-wide association studies using a common set of 7,893,274 variants across 13,708 cases and 95,282 controls. Twenty-six loci were identified as genome-wide significant; these and six additional previously reported loci were then tested in an independent set of 5,353 cases and 5,551 controls. Of the 32 tested SNPs, 24 replicated, including 6 novel loci. Conditional analyses within loci show four loci including GBA, GAK/DGKQ, SNCA, and HLA contain a secondary independent risk variant. In total we identified and replicated 28 independent risk variants for Parkinson disease across 24 loci. While the effect of each individual locus is small, a risk profile analysis revealed a substantial cummulative risk in a comparison highest versus lowest quintiles of genetic risk (OR=3.31, 95% CI: 2.55, 4.30; p-value = 2×10−16). We also show 6 risk loci associated with proximal gene expression or DNA methylation.
We present a statistical methodology, DGEclust, for differential expression analysis of digital expression data. Our method treats differential expression as a form of clustering, thus unifying these two concepts. Furthermore, it simultaneously addresses the problem of how many clusters are supported by the data and uncertainty in parameter estimation. DGEclust successfully identifies differentially expressed genes under a number of different scenarios, maintaining a low error rate and an excellent control of its false discovery rate with reasonable computational requirements. It is formulated to perform particularly well on low-replicated data and be applicable to multi-group data. DGEclust is available at http://dvav.github.io/dgeclust/.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13059-015-0604-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Mutations in three functionally diverse genes cause Rett Syndrome. Although the functions of Forkhead box G1 (FOXG1), Methyl CpG binding protein 2 (MECP2) and Cyclin-dependent kinase-like 5 (CDKL5) have been studied individually, not much is known about their relation to each other with respect to expression levels and regulatory regions. Here we analyzed data from hundreds of mouse and human samples included in the FANTOM5 project, to identify transcript initiation sites, expression levels, expression correlations and regulatory regions of the three genes.
Our investigations reveal the predominantly used transcription start sites (TSSs) for each gene including novel transcription start sites for FOXG1. We show that FOXG1 expression is poorly correlated with the expression of MECP2 and CDKL5. We identify promoter shapes for each TSS, the predicted location of enhancers for each gene and the common transcription factors likely to regulate the three genes. Our data imply Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 (PRC2) mediated silencing of Foxg1 in cerebellum.
Our analyses provide a comprehensive picture of the regulatory regions of the three genes involved in Rett Syndrome.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-1177) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Rett Syndrome; CAGE; Transcriptomics; Promoter architecture
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common, debilitating neuropsychiatric
illness with complex genetic etiology. The International OCD Foundation Genetics
Collaborative (IOCDF-GC) is a multi-national collaboration established to discover the
genetic variation predisposing to OCD. A set of individuals affected with DSM-IV OCD, a
subset of their parents, and unselected controls, were genotyped with several different
Illumina SNP microarrays. After extensive data cleaning, 1,465 cases, 5,557
ancestry-matched controls and 400 complete trios remained, with a common set of 469,410
autosomal and 9,657 X-chromosome SNPs. Ancestry-stratified case-control association
analyses were conducted for three genetically-defined subpopulations and combined in two
meta-analyses, with and without the trio-based analysis. In the case-control analysis, the
lowest two p-values were located within DLGAP1
(p=2.49×10-6 and p=3.44×10-6), a
member of the neuronal postsynaptic density complex. In the trio analysis, rs6131295, near
BTBD3, exceeded the genome-wide significance threshold with a
p-value=3.84 × 10-8. However, when trios were meta-analyzed
with the combined case-control samples, the p-value for this variant was
3.62×10-5, losing genome-wide significance. Although no SNPs were
identified to be associated with OCD at a genome-wide significant level in the combined
trio-case-control sample, a significant enrichment of methylation-QTLs (p<0.001)
and frontal lobe eQTLs (p=0.001) was observed within the top-ranked SNPs
(p<0.01) from the trio-case-control analysis, suggesting these top signals may
have a broad role in gene expression in the brain, and possibly in the etiology of
Obsessive-compulsive disorder; GWAS; Genetic; Genomic; Neurodevelopmental disorder; DLGAP
Parkinson’s disease (PD) has a number of known genetic risk factors. Clinical and epidemiological studies have suggested the existence of intermediate factors that may be associated with additional risk of PD. We construct genetic risk profiles for additional epidemiological and clinical factors using known genome-wide association studies (GWAS) loci related to these specific phenotypes to estimate genetic comorbidity in a systematic review. We identify genetic risk profiles based on GWAS variants associated with schizophrenia and Crohn’s disease as significantly associated with risk of PD. Conditional analyses adjusting for SNPs near loci associated with PD and schizophrenia or PD and Crohn’s disease suggest that spatially overlapping loci associated with schizophrenia and PD account for most of the shared comorbidity, while variation outside of known proximal loci shared by PD and Crohn’s disease accounts for their shared genetic comorbidity. We examine brain methylation and expression signatures proximal to schizophrenia and Crohn’s disease loci to infer functional changes in the brain associated with the variants contributing to genetic comorbidity. We compare our results with a systematic review of epidemiological literature, while the findings are dissimilar to a degree; marginal genetic associations corroborate the directionality of associations across genetic and epidemiological data. We show a strong genetically defined level of comorbidity between PD and Crohn’s disease as well as between PD and schizophrenia, with likely functional consequences of associated variants occurring in brain.
In this work we investigate the role of CHIP in a new CHIP-mutation related ataxia and the therapeutic potential of trehalose. The patient's fibroblasts with a new form of hereditary ataxia, related to STUB1 gene (CHIP) mutations, and three age and sex-matched controls were treated with epoxomicin and trehalose. The effects on cell death, protein misfolding and proteostasis were evaluated. Recent studies have revealed that mutations in STUB-1 gene lead to a growing list of molecular defects as deregulation of protein quality, inhibition of proteasome, cell death, decreased autophagy and alteration in CHIP and HSP70 levels. In this CHIP-mutant patient fibroblasts the inhibition of proteasome with epoxomicin induced severe pathophysiological age-associated changes, cell death and protein ubiquitination. Additionally, treatment with epoxomicin produced a dose-dependent increase in the number of cleaved caspase-3 positive cells. However, co-treatment with trehalose, a disaccharide of glucose present in a wide variety of organisms and known as a autophagy enhancer, reduced these pathological events. Trehalose application also increased CHIP and HSP70 expression and GSH free radical levels. Furthermore, trehalose augmented macro and chaperone mediated autophagy (CMA), rising the levels of LC3, LAMP2, CD63 and increasing the expression of Beclin-1 and Atg5-Atg12. Trehalose treatment in addition increased the percentage of immunoreactive cells to HSC70 and LAMP2 and reduced the autophagic substrate, p62. Although this is an individual case based on only one patient and the statistical comparisons are not valid between controls and patient, the low variability among controls and the obvious differences with this patient allow us to conclude that trehalose, through its autophagy activation capacity, anti-aggregation properties, anti-oxidative effects and lack of toxicity, could be very promising for the treatment of CHIP-mutation related ataxia, and possibly a wide spectrum of neurodegenerative disorders related to protein disconformation.
Mutations in the gene encoding the dopamine-synthetic enzyme GTP cyclohydrolase-1 (GCH1) cause DOPA-responsive dystonia (DRD). Mencacci et al. demonstrate that GCH1 variants are associated with an increased risk of Parkinson's disease in both DRD pedigrees and in patients with Parkinson's disease but without a family history of DRD.
GTP cyclohydrolase 1, encoded by the GCH1 gene, is an essential enzyme for dopamine production in nigrostriatal cells. Loss-of-function mutations in GCH1 result in severe reduction of dopamine synthesis in nigrostriatal cells and are the most common cause of DOPA-responsive dystonia, a rare disease that classically presents in childhood with generalized dystonia and a dramatic long-lasting response to levodopa. We describe clinical, genetic and nigrostriatal dopaminergic imaging ([123I]N-ω-fluoropropyl-2β-carbomethoxy-3β-(4-iodophenyl) tropane single photon computed tomography) findings of four unrelated pedigrees with DOPA-responsive dystonia in which pathogenic GCH1 variants were identified in family members with adult-onset parkinsonism. Dopamine transporter imaging was abnormal in all parkinsonian patients, indicating Parkinson’s disease-like nigrostriatal dopaminergic denervation. We subsequently explored the possibility that pathogenic GCH1 variants could contribute to the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, even in the absence of a family history for DOPA-responsive dystonia. The frequency of GCH1 variants was evaluated in whole-exome sequencing data of 1318 cases with Parkinson’s disease and 5935 control subjects. Combining cases and controls, we identified a total of 11 different heterozygous GCH1 variants, all at low frequency. This list includes four pathogenic variants previously associated with DOPA-responsive dystonia (Q110X, V204I, K224R and M230I) and seven of undetermined clinical relevance (Q110E, T112A, A120S, D134G, I154V, R198Q and G217V). The frequency of GCH1 variants was significantly higher (Fisher’s exact test P-value 0.0001) in cases (10/1318 = 0.75%) than in controls (6/5935 = 0.1%; odds ratio 7.5; 95% confidence interval 2.4–25.3). Our results show that rare GCH1 variants are associated with an increased risk for Parkinson’s disease. These findings expand the clinical and biological relevance of GTP cycloydrolase 1 deficiency, suggesting that it not only leads to biochemical striatal dopamine depletion and DOPA-responsive dystonia, but also predisposes to nigrostriatal cell loss. Further insight into GCH1-associated pathogenetic mechanisms will shed light on the role of dopamine metabolism in nigral degeneration and Parkinson’s disease.
GCH1; DOPA-responsive-dystonia; Parkinson’s disease; dopamine; exome sequencing
To identify the mutated gene in a group of patients with an unclassified heritable white matter disorder sharing the same, distinct MRI pattern.
We used MRI pattern recognition analysis to select a group of patients with a similar, characteristic MRI pattern. We performed whole-exome sequencing to identify the mutated gene. We examined patients' fibroblasts for biochemical consequences of the mutant protein.
We identified 6 patients from 5 unrelated families with a similar MRI pattern showing predominant abnormalities of the cerebellar cortex, deep cerebral white matter, and corpus callosum. The 4 tested patients had a respiratory chain complex І deficiency. Exome sequencing revealed mutations in NUBPL, encoding an iron-sulfur cluster assembly factor for complex І, in all patients. Upon identification of the mutated gene, we analyzed the MRI of a previously published case with NUBPL mutations and found exactly the same pattern. A strongly decreased amount of NUBPL protein and fully assembled complex I was found in patients' fibroblasts. Analysis of the effect of mutated NUBPL on the assembly of the peripheral arm of complex I indicated that NUBPL is involved in assembly of iron-sulfur clusters early in the complex I assembly pathway.
Our data show that NUBPL mutations are associated with a unique, consistent, and recognizable MRI pattern, which facilitates fast diagnosis and obviates the need for other tests, including assessment of mitochondrial complex activities in muscle or fibroblasts.
bipolar disorder; major depressive disorder; genome-wide association study; meta-analysis
Tourette Syndrome (TS) is a developmental disorder that has one of the highest familial recurrence rates among neuropsychiatric diseases with complex inheritance. However, the identification of definitive TS susceptibility genes remains elusive. Here, we report the first genome-wide association study (GWAS) of TS in 1285 cases and 4964 ancestry-matched controls of European ancestry, including two European-derived population isolates, Ashkenazi Jews from North America and Israel, and French Canadians from Quebec, Canada. In a primary meta-analysis of GWAS data from these European ancestry samples, no markers achieved a genome-wide threshold of significance (p<5 × 10−8); the top signal was found in rs7868992 on chromosome 9q32 within COL27A1 (p=1.85 × 10−6). A secondary analysis including an additional 211 cases and 285 controls from two closely-related Latin-American population isolates from the Central Valley of Costa Rica and Antioquia, Colombia also identified rs7868992 as the top signal (p=3.6 × 10−7 for the combined sample of 1496 cases and 5249 controls following imputation with 1000 Genomes data). This study lays the groundwork for the eventual identification of common TS susceptibility variants in larger cohorts and helps to provide a more complete understanding of the full genetic architecture of this disorder.
Tourette Syndrome; tics; genetics; GWAS; neurodevelopmental disorder
Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a psychiatric disorder, characterized by periods of low mood of more than two weeks, loss of interest in normally enjoyable activities and behavioral changes. MDD is a complex disorder and does not have a single genetic cause. In 2009 a genome wide association study (GWAS) was performed on the Dutch GAIN-MDD cohort. Many of the top signals of this GWAS mapped to a region spanning the gene PCLO, and the non-synonymous coding single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs2522833 in the PCLO gene became genome wide significant after post-hoc analysis. We performed resequencing of PCLO, GRM7, and SLC6A4 in 50 control samples from the GAIN-MDD cohort, to detect new genomic variants. Subsequently, we genotyped these variants in the entire GAIN-MDD cohort and performed association analysis to investigate if rs2522833 is the causal variant or simply in linkage disequilibrium with a more associated variant. GRM7 and SLC6A4 are both candidate genes for MDD from literature. We aimed to gather more evidence that rs2522833 is indeed the causal variant in the GAIN-MDD cohort or to find a previously undetected common variant in either PCLO, GRM7, or SLC6A4 with a higher association in this cohort. After next generation sequencing and association analysis we excluded the possibility of an undetected common variant to be more associated. For neither PCLO nor GRM7 we found a more associated variant. For SLC6A4, we found a new SNP that showed a lower P-value (P = 0.07) than in the GAIN-MDD GWAS (P = 0.09). However, no evidence for genome-wide significance was found. Although we did not take into account rare variants, we conclude that our results provide further support for the hypothesis that the non-synonymous coding SNP rs2522833 in the PCLO gene is indeed likely to be the causal variant in the GAIN-MDD cohort.
Genome-wide association studies (GWASs) have been successful at identifying single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) highly associated with common traits; however, a great deal of the heritable variation associated with common traits remains unaccounted for within the genome. Genome-wide complex trait analysis (GCTA) is a statistical method that applies a linear mixed model to estimate phenotypic variance of complex traits explained by genome-wide SNPs, including those not associated with the trait in a GWAS. We applied GCTA to 8 cohorts containing 7096 case and 19 455 control individuals of European ancestry in order to examine the missing heritability present in Parkinson's disease (PD). We meta-analyzed our initial results to produce robust heritability estimates for PD types across cohorts. Our results identify 27% (95% CI 17–38, P = 8.08E − 08) phenotypic variance associated with all types of PD, 15% (95% CI −0.2 to 33, P = 0.09) phenotypic variance associated with early-onset PD and 31% (95% CI 17–44, P = 1.34E − 05) phenotypic variance associated with late-onset PD. This is a substantial increase from the genetic variance identified by top GWAS hits alone (between 3 and 5%) and indicates there are substantially more risk loci to be identified. Our results suggest that although GWASs are a useful tool in identifying the most common variants associated with complex disease, a great deal of common variants of small effect remain to be discovered.
The direct estimation of heritability from genome-wide common variant data as implemented in the program Genome-wide Complex Trait Analysis (GCTA) has provided a means to quantify heritability attributable to all interrogated variants. We have quantified the variance in liability to disease explained by all SNPs for two phenotypically-related neurobehavioral disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and Tourette Syndrome (TS), using GCTA. Our analysis yielded a heritability point estimate of 0.58 (se = 0.09, p = 5.64e-12) for TS, and 0.37 (se = 0.07, p = 1.5e-07) for OCD. In addition, we conducted multiple genomic partitioning analyses to identify genomic elements that concentrate this heritability. We examined genomic architectures of TS and OCD by chromosome, MAF bin, and functional annotations. In addition, we assessed heritability for early onset and adult onset OCD. Among other notable results, we found that SNPs with a minor allele frequency of less than 5% accounted for 21% of the TS heritability and 0% of the OCD heritability. Additionally, we identified a significant contribution to TS and OCD heritability by variants significantly associated with gene expression in two regions of the brain (parietal cortex and cerebellum) for which we had available expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs). Finally we analyzed the genetic correlation between TS and OCD, revealing a genetic correlation of 0.41 (se = 0.15, p = 0.002). These results are very close to previous heritability estimates for TS and OCD based on twin and family studies, suggesting that very little, if any, heritability is truly missing (i.e., unassayed) from TS and OCD GWAS studies of common variation. The results also indicate that there is some genetic overlap between these two phenotypically-related neuropsychiatric disorders, but suggest that the two disorders have distinct genetic architectures.
Family and twin studies have shown that genetic risk factors are important in the development of Tourette Syndrome (TS) and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). However, efforts to identify the individual genetic risk factors involved in these two neuropsychiatric disorders have been largely unsuccessful. One possible explanation for this is that many genetic variations scattered throughout the genome each contribute a small amount to the overall risk. For TS and OCD, the genetic architecture (characterized by the number, frequency, and distribution of genetic risk factors) is presently unknown. This study examined the genetic architecture of TS and OCD in a variety of ways. We found that rare genetic changes account for more genetic risk in TS than in OCD; certain chromosomes contribute to OCD risk more than others; and variants that influence the level of genes expressed in two regions of the brain can account for a significant amount of risk for both TS and OCD. Results from this study might help in determining where, and what kind of variants are individual risk factors for TS and OCD and where they might be located in the human genome.
Sardinia has been used for genetic studies because of its historical isolation, genetic homogeneity and increased prevalence of certain rare diseases. Controversy remains concerning the genetic substructure and the extent of genetic homogeneity, which has implications for the design of genome-wide association studies (GWAS). We revisited this issue by examining the genetic make-up of a sample from North-East Sardinia using a dense set of autosomal, Y chromosome and mitochondrial markers to assess the potential of the sample for GWAS and fine mapping studies. We genotyped individuals for 500K single-nucleotide polymorphisms, Y chromosome markers and sequenced the mitochondrial hypervariable (HVI–HVII) regions. We identified major haplogroups and compared these with other populations. We estimated linkage disequilibrium (LD) and haplotype diversity across autosomal markers, and compared these with other populations. Our results show that within Sardinia there is no major population substructure and thus it can be considered a genetically homogenous population. We did not find substantial differences in the extent of LD in Sardinians compared with other populations. However, we showed that at least 9% of genomic regions in Sardinians differed in LD structure, which is helpful for identifying functional variants using fine mapping. We concluded that Sardinia is a powerful setting for genetic studies including GWAS and other mapping approaches.
Sardinia; POPRES; HAPMAP; population genetics
Association studies have identified several signals at the LRRK2 locus for Parkinson's disease (PD), Crohn's disease (CD) and leprosy. However, little is known about the molecular mechanisms mediating these effects. To further characterize this locus, we fine-mapped the risk association in 5,802 PD and 5,556 controls using a dense genotyping array (ImmunoChip). Using samples from 134 post-mortem control adult human brains (UK Human Brain Expression Consortium), where up to ten brain regions were available per individual, we studied the regional variation, splicing and regulation of LRRK2. We found convincing evidence for a common variant PD association located outside of the LRRK2 protein coding region (rs117762348, A>G, P = 2.56×10−8, case/control MAF 0.083/0.074, odds ratio 0.86 for the minor allele with 95% confidence interval [0.80–0.91]). We show that mRNA expression levels are highest in cortical regions and lowest in cerebellum. We find an exon quantitative trait locus (QTL) in brain samples that localizes to exons 32–33 and investigate the molecular basis of this eQTL using RNA-Seq data in n = 8 brain samples. The genotype underlying this eQTL is in strong linkage disequilibrium with the CD associated non-synonymous SNP rs3761863 (M2397T). We found two additional QTLs in liver and monocyte samples but none of these explained the common variant PD association at rs117762348. Our results characterize the LRRK2 locus, and highlight the importance and difficulties of fine-mapping and integration of multiple datasets to delineate pathogenic variants and thus develop an understanding of disease mechanisms.
Multiple lines of evidence suggest that fatty acids (FA) play an important role in cognitive function. However, little is known about the functional genetic pathways involved in cognition. The main goals of this study were to replicate previously reported interaction effects between breast feeding (BF) and FA desaturase (FADS) genetic variation on IQ and to investigate the possible mechanisms by which these variants might moderate BF effect, focusing on brain expression. Using a sample of 534 twins, we observed a trend in the moderation of BF effects on IQ by FADS2 variation. In addition, we made use of publicly available gene expression databases from both humans (193) and mice (93) and showed that FADS2 variants also correlate with FADS1 brain expression (P-value<1.1E-03). Our results provide novel clues for the understanding of the genetic mechanisms regulating FA brain expression and improve the current knowledge of the FADS moderation effect on cognition.
A hexanucleotide repeat expansion in the C9ORF72 gene has recently been shown to cause a large proportion of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and fronto-temporal dementia (FTD).
We screened 4,448 patients diagnosed with ALS and 1,425 patients diagnosed with FTD drawn from diverse populations for the hexanucleotide expansion using a repeat-primed PCR assay. ALS and FTD were diagnosed according to the El Escorial and Lund-Manchester criteria respectively. Familial status was based on self-reported family history of similar neurodegenerative diseases at the time of sample collection. Haplotype data of 262 patients carrying the expansion were compared with the known Finnish founder risk haplotype across the chromosomal locus. Age-related penetrance was calculated by the Kaplan-Meier method using data from 603 individuals carrying the expansion.
The mutation was observed among 7·0% (n = 236 of 3,377) of Caucasians, 4·1% (n = 2 of 49) of African-Americans, and 8·3% (n = 6 of 72) of Hispanic individuals diagnosed with sporadic ALS, whereas the rate was 6·0% (n = 59 of 981) among Caucasians diagnosed with sporadic FTD. Among Asians, 5·0% (n = 1 of 20) of familial ALS and 66·6% (n = 2 of 3) of familial FTD cases carried the repeat expansion. In contrast, mutations were not observed among patients of Native American (n = 3 sporadic ALS), Indian (n = 31 sporadic ALS, n = 31 sporadic FTD), and Pacific Islander (n = 90 sporadic ALS) ethnicity. All patients with the repeat expansion carried, either partially or fully, the founder haplotype suggesting that the expansion occurred on a single occasion in the past (~1,500 years ago). The pathogenic expansion was non-penetrant below 35 years of age, increasing to 50·0% penetrance by 58 years of age, and was almost fully penetrant by 80 years of age.
We confirm that a common single Mendelian genetic lesion is implicated in a large proportion of sporadic and familial ALS and FTD. Testing for this pathogenic expansion will be important in the management and genetic counseling of patients with these fatal neurodegenerative diseases.