Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease is the most common inherited neuromuscular disorder, affecting 1 in 2,500 individuals. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutations are not generally considered within the differential diagnosis of patients with uncomplicated inherited neuropathy, despite the essential requirement of ATP for axonal function. We identified the mtDNA mutation m.9185T>C in MT-ATP6, encoding the ATP6 subunit of the mitochondrial ATP synthase (OXPHOS complex V), at homoplasmic levels in a family with mitochondrial disease in whom a severe motor axonal neuropathy was a striking feature. This led us to hypothesize that mutations in the 2 mtDNA complex V subunit encoding genes, MT-ATP6 and MT-ATP8, might be an unrecognized cause of isolated axonal CMT and distal hereditary motor neuropathy (dHMN).
A total of 442 probands with CMT type 2 (CMT2) (270) and dHMN (172) were screened for MT-ATP6/8 mutations after exclusion of mutations in known CMT2/dHMN genes. Mutation load was quantified using restriction endonuclease analysis. Blue-native gel electrophoresis (BN-PAGE) was performed to analyze the effects of m.9185T>C on complex V structure and function.
Three further probands with CMT2 harbored the m.9185T>C mutation. Some relatives had been classified as having dHMN. Patients could be separated into 4 groups according to their mutant m.9185T>C levels. BN-PAGE demonstrated both impaired assembly and reduced activity of the complex V holoenzyme.
We have shown that m.9185T>C in MT-ATP6 causes CMT2 in 1.1% of genetically undefined cases. This has important implications for diagnosis and genetic counseling. Recognition that mutations in MT-ATP6 cause CMT2 enhances current understanding of the pathogenic basis of axonal neuropathy.
To present a new family with tyrosine hydroxylase deficiency (THD) that presented with a new phenotype of predominant, levodopa-responsive myoclonus with dystonia due to compound heterozygosity of one previously reported mutation in the promoter region and a novel nonsynonymous mutation in the other allele, thus expanding the clinical and genetic spectrum of this disorder.
We performed detailed clinical examination of the family and electrophysiology to characterize the myoclonus. We performed analysis of the TH gene and in silico prediction of the possible effect of nonsynonymous substitutions on protein structure.
Electrophysiology suggested that the myoclonus was of subcortical origin. Genetic analysis of the TH gene revealed compound heterozygosity of a point mutation in the promoter region (c.1-71 C>T) and a novel nonsynonymous substitution in exon 12 (c.1282G>A, p.Gly428Arg). The latter is a novel variant, predicted to have a deleterious effect on the TH protein function and is the first pathogenic TH mutation in patients of African ancestry.
We presented a THD family with predominant myoclonus-dystonia and a new genotype. It is important to consider THD in the differential diagnosis of myoclonus-dystonia, because early treatment with levodopa is crucial for these patients.
Genetic heterogeneity is common in many neurologic disorders. This is particularly true for the hereditary ataxias where at least 36 disease genes or loci have been described for spinocerebellar ataxia and over 100 genes for neurologic disorders that present primarily with ataxia. Traditional genetic testing of a large number of candidate genes delays diagnosis and is expensive. In contrast, recently developed genomic techniques, such as exome sequencing that targets only the coding portion of the genome, offer an alternative strategy to rapidly sequence all genes in a comprehensive manner. Here we describe the use of exome sequencing to investigate a large, 5-generational British kindred with an autosomal dominant, progressive cerebellar ataxia in which conventional genetic testing had not revealed a causal etiology.
Twenty family members were seen and examined; 2 affected individuals were clinically investigated in detail without a genetic or acquired cause being identified. Exome sequencing was performed in one patient where coverage was comprehensive across the known ataxia genes, excluding the known repeat loci which should be examined using conventional analysis.
A novel p.Arg26Gly change in the PRKCG gene, mutated in SCA14, was identified. This variant was confirmed using Sanger sequencing and showed segregation with disease in the entire family.
This work demonstrates the utility of exome sequencing to rapidly screen heterogeneous genetic disorders such as the ataxias. Exome sequencing is more comprehensive, faster, and significantly cheaper than conventional Sanger sequencing, and thus represents a superior diagnostic screening tool in clinical practice.
Recent advances in genomics technologies have spurred unprecedented efforts in genome and exome re-sequencing aiming to unravel the genetic component of rare and complex disorders. While in rare disorders this allowed the identification of novel causal genes, the missing heritability paradox in complex diseases remains so far elusive. Despite rapid advances of next-generation sequencing, both the technology and the analysis of the data it produces are in its infancy. At present there is abundant knowledge pertaining to the role of rare single nucleotide variants (SNVs) in rare disorders and of common SNVs in common disorders. Although the 1,000 genome project has clearly highlighted the prevalence of rare variants and more complex variants (e.g. insertions, deletions), their role in disease is as yet far from elucidated.
We set out to analyse the properties of sequence variants identified in a comprehensive collection of exome re-sequencing studies performed on samples from patients affected by a broad range of complex and rare diseases (N = 173). Given the known potential for Loss of Function (LoF) variants to be false positive, we performed an extensive validation of the common, rare and private LoF variants identified, which indicated that most of the private and rare variants identified were indeed true, while common novel variants had a significantly higher false positive rate. Our results indicated a strong enrichment of very low-frequency insertion/deletion variants, so far under-investigated, which might be difficult to capture with low coverage and imputation approaches and for which most of study designs would be under-powered. These insertions and deletions might play a significant role in disease genetics, contributing specifically to the underlining rare and private variation predicted to be discovered through next generation sequencing.
To test whether the synucleinopathies Parkinson’s disease and multiple system atrophy (MSA) share a common genetic etiology, we performed a candidate single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) association study of the 384 most associated SNPs in a genome-wide association study of Parkinson’s disease in 413 MSA cases and 3,974 control subjects. The 10 most significant SNPs were then replicated in additional 108 MSA cases and 537 controls. SNPs at the SNCA locus were significantly associated with risk for increased risk for the development of MSA (combined p = 5.5 × 1012; odds ratio 6.2).
Our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of many neurological disorders has been greatly enhanced by the discovery of mutations in genes linked to familial forms of these diseases. These have facilitated the generation of cell and animal models that can be used to understand the underlying molecular pathology. Recently, there has been a surge of interest in the use of patient-derived cells, due to the development of induced pluripotent stem cells and their subsequent differentiation into neurons and glia. Access to patient cell lines carrying the relevant mutations is a limiting factor for many centres wishing to pursue this research. We have therefore generated an open-access collection of fibroblast lines from patients carrying mutations linked to neurological disease. These cell lines have been deposited in the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) Repository at the Coriell Institute for Medical Research and can be requested by any research group for use in in vitro disease modelling. There are currently 71 mutation-defined cell lines available for request from a wide range of neurological disorders and this collection will be continually expanded. This represents a significant resource that will advance the use of patient cells as disease models by the scientific community.
Paroxysmal Kinesigenic Dyskinesia with Infantile Convulsions (PKD/IC) is an episodic movement disorder with autosomal dominant inheritance and high penetrance, but the causative gene is unknown. We have now identified four truncating mutations involving the PRRT2 gene in the vast majority (24/25) of well characterized families with PKD/IC. PRRT2 truncating mutations were also detected in 28 of 78 additional families. The PRRT2 gene encodes a proline-rich transmembrane protein of unknown function that has been reported to interact with the t-SNARE, SNAP25. PRRT2 localizes to axons but not to dendritic processes in primary neuronal culture and mutants associated with PKD/IC lead to dramatically reduced PRRT2 protein levels leading ultimately to neuronal hyperexcitability that manifests in vivo as PKD/IC.
A major barrier to research on Parkinson's disease is inaccessibility of diseased tissue for study. One solution is to derive induced pluripotent stem cells from patients and differentiate them into neurons affected by disease. Triplication of SNCA, encoding α-synuclein, causes a fully penetrant, aggressive form of Parkinson's disease with dementia. α-Synuclein dysfunction is the critical pathogenic event in Parkinson's disease, multiple system atrophy and dementia with Lewy bodies. Here we produce multiple induced pluripotent stem cell lines from an SNCA triplication patient and an unaffected first-degree relative. When these cells are differentiated into midbrain dopaminergic neurons, those from the patient produce double the amount of α-synuclein protein as neurons from the unaffected relative, precisely recapitulating the cause of Parkinson's disease in these individuals. This model represents a new experimental system to identify compounds that reduce levels of α-synuclein, and to investigate the mechanistic basis of neurodegeneration caused by α-synuclein dysfunction.
Pluripotent stem cells can be generated from the somatic cells of humans and are a useful model to study disease. Here, pluripotent stem cells are made from a patient with familial Parkinson's disease, and the resulting neurons exhibit elevated levels of α-synuclein, recapitulating the molecular features of the patient's disease.
Parkinson's disease (PD) is a complex neurodegenerative disease which is clinically heterogeneous and pathologically consists of loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra and intracytoplasmic neuronal inclusions containing alpha-synuclein aggregations known as Lewy bodies. Although the majority of PD is idiopathic, pathogenic mutations in several mendelian genes have been successfully identified through linkage analyses. To identify susceptibility loci for idiopathic PD, several genome-wide association studies (GWAS) within different populations have recently been conducted in both idiopathic and familial forms of PD. These analyses have confirmed SNCA and MAPT as loci harboring PD susceptibility. In addition, the GWAS identified several other genetic loci suggestively associated with the risk of PD; among these, only one was replicated by two different studies of European and Asian ancestries. Hence, we investigated this novel locus known as PARK16 for coding mutations in a large series of idiopathic pathologically proven PD cases, and also conducted an association study in a case–control cohort from the United Kingdom. An association between a novel RAB7L1 mutation, c.379-12insT, and disease (P-value=0.0325) was identified. Two novel coding variants present only in the PD cohort were also identified within the RAB7L1 (p.K157R) and SLC41A1 (p.A350V) genes. No copy number variation analyses have yet been performed within this recently identified locus. We concluded that, although both coding variants and risk alleles within the PARK16 locus seem to be rare, further molecular analyses within the PARK16 locus and within different populations are required in order to examine its biochemical role in the disease process.
PARK16 locus; genetics; association studies
Following years of linear gains in the genetic dissection of human disease, we are now in a period of exponential discovery. This is particularly apparent for complex disease. Genome-wide association studies have provided myriad associations between common variability and disease, and shown that common genetic variability is unlikely to explain the entire genetic predisposition to disease. Here, we detail how one can expand on this success and systematically identify genetic risks that lead or predispose to disease using next generation sequencing. Geneticists have had for many years a protocol to identify Mendelian disease. Now we have available a similar set of tools for the identification of rare moderate risk loci and common low risk variants. While undoubtedly major challenges remain, particularly with data handling and the functional classification of variants, we suggest that these will be largely practical and not conceptual.
Hereditary neuropathies form a heterogeneous group of disorders for which over 40 causal genes have been identified to date. Recently, dominant mutations in the transient receptor potential vanilloid 4 gene were found to be associated with three distinct neuromuscular phenotypes: hereditary motor and sensory neuropathy 2C, scapuloperoneal spinal muscular atrophy and congenital distal spinal muscular atrophy. Transient receptor potential vanilloid 4 encodes a cation channel previously implicated in several types of dominantly inherited bone dysplasia syndromes. We performed DNA sequencing of the coding regions of transient receptor potential vanilloid 4 in a cohort of 145 patients with various types of hereditary neuropathy and identified five different heterozygous missense mutations in eight unrelated families. One mutation arose de novo in an isolated patient, and the remainder segregated in families. Two of the mutations were recurrent in unrelated families. Four mutations in transient receptor potential vanilloid 4 targeted conserved arginine residues in the ankyrin repeat domain, which is believed to be important in protein–protein interactions. Striking phenotypic variability between and within families was observed. The majority of patients displayed a predominantly, or pure, motor neuropathy with axonal characteristics observed on electrophysiological testing. The age of onset varied widely, ranging from congenital to late adulthood onset. Various combinations of additional features were present in most patients including vocal fold paralysis, scapular weakness, contractures and hearing loss. We identified six asymptomatic mutation carriers, indicating reduced penetrance of the transient receptor potential vanilloid 4 defects. This finding is relatively unusual in the context of hereditary neuropathies and has important implications for diagnostic testing and genetic counselling.
transient receptor potential vanilloid 4 gene; hereditary motor and sensory neuropathy type 2C; scapuloperoneal spinal muscular atrophy; congenital distal spinal muscular atrophy; skeletal dysplasia
Mutations in the spatacsin gene are associated with spastic paraplegia type 11 (SPG11), which is the most-common cause of autosomal recessive hereditary spastic paraplegia. Although SPG11 has diverse phenotypes, thinning of the corpus callosum is an important feature.
Clinical, genetic, and radiological evaluations were undertaken in a large family from Gujarat in North India with hereditary spastic paraplegia, whose affected members presented with varying degrees of spasticity, ataxia, and cognitive impairment. The clinical severity and the degree of corpus callosum and cerebellar atrophy varied among the four affected individuals in the family. Genetic testing of the affected members revealed recessive mutations in the spatacsin gene, consistent with a diagnosis of SPG11.
We believe that the extent of corpus callosum thinning and cerebellar atrophy is correlated with disease severity in affected patients. The addition of extrapyramidal features in the most-affected members suggests that SPG11 exhibits considerable phenotypic heterogeneity.
SPG11; spatacsin; corpus callosum; hereditary spastic paraplegia; cognitive impairment; cerebellar atrophy
Giant axonal neuropathy (GAN; MIM 256850) is a severe childhood onset autosomal recessive sensorimotor neuropathy affecting both the peripheral nerves and the central nervous system. Bomont and colleagues identified a novel ubiquitously expressed gene they named Gigaxonin on chromosome 16q24 as the cause of GAN in a number of families. We analysed five families with GAN for mutations in the Gigaxonin gene and mutations were found in four families; three families had homozygous mutations, one had two compound heterozygous mutations and one family had no mutation identified. All families had the typical clinical features, kinky hair and nerve biopsy. We report some unusual clinical features associated with GAN and Gigaxonin mutations as well as confirm the heterogeneity in GAN and the identification of two families with manifesting carriers.
Nerve growth factor β (NGFβ) and tyrosine kinase receptor type A (TRKA) are a well studied neurotrophin/receptor duo involved in neuronal survival and differentiation. The only previously reported hereditary sensory neuropathy caused by an NGF mutation, c.661C>T (HSAN5), and the pathology caused by biallelic mutations in the TRKA gene (NTRK1) (HSAN4), share only some clinical features. A consanguineous Arab family, where five of the six children were completely unable to perceive pain, were mentally retarded, did not sweat, could not discriminate temperature, and had a chronic immunodeficiency, is reported here. The condition is linked to a new homozygous mutation in the NGF gene, c.[680C>A]+[681_682delGG].
Genetic linkage and standard sequencing techniques were used to identify the causative gene. Using wild-type or mutant over-expression constructs transfected into PC12 and COS-7 cells, the cellular and molecular consequences of the mutations were investigated.
The mutant gene produced a precursor protein V232fs that was unable to differentiate PC12 cells. V232fs was not secreted from cells as mature NGFβ.
Both the clinical and cellular data suggest that the c.[680C>A]+[681_682delGG] NGF mutation is a functional null. The HSAN5 phenotype is extended to encompass HSAN4-like characteristics. It is concluded that the HSAN4 and HSAN5 phenotypes are parts of a phenotypic spectrum caused by changes in the NGF/TRKA signalling pathway.
Clinical genetics; peripheral nerve disease
Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 2C (CMT2C) is an autosomal dominant neuropathy characterized by limb, diaphragm, and laryngeal muscle weakness. Two unrelated families with CMT2C showed significant linkage to chromosome 12q24.11. All genes in this region were sequenced and heterozygous missense mutations were identified in the TRPV4 gene at positions c.805C>T and c.806G>A, causing the amino acid substitutions R269C and R269H. TRPV4 is a well known member of the TRP superfamily of cation channels. In TRPV4-transfected cells, the CMT2C mutations caused marked cellular toxicity and increased constitutive and activated channel currents. Mutations in TRPV4 were previously associated with skeletal dysplasias. Our findings indicate that TRPV4 mutations can also cause a degenerative disorder of peripheral nerves. The CMT2C mutations lie in a distinct region of the TRPV4 ankyrin repeats, suggesting that this striking phenotypic variability may be due to differential effects on regulatory protein-protein interactions.
Mutations in the glucocerebrosidase gene (GBA) are associated with Gaucher's disease, the most common lysosomal storage disorder. Parkinsonism is an established feature of Gaucher's disease and an increased frequency of mutations in GBA has been reported in several different ethnic series with sporadic Parkinson's disease. In this study, we evaluated the frequency of GBA mutations in British patients affected by Parkinson's disease. We utilized the DNA of 790 patients and 257 controls, matched for age and ethnicity, to screen for mutations within the GBA gene. Clinical data on all identified GBA mutation carriers was reviewed and analysed. Additionally, in all cases where brain material was available, a neuropathological evaluation was performed and compared to sporadic Parkinson's disease without GBA mutations. The frequency of GBA mutations among the British patients (33/790 = 4.18%) was significantly higher (P = 0.01; odds ratio = 3.7; 95% confidence interval = 1.12–12.14) when compared to the control group (3/257 = 1.17%). Fourteen different GBA mutations were identified, including three previously undescribed mutations, K7E, D443N and G193E. Pathological examination revealed widespread and abundant α-synuclein pathology in all 17 GBA mutation carriers, which were graded as Braak stage of 5–6, and had McKeith's limbic or diffuse neocortical Lewy body-type pathology. Diffuse neocortical Lewy body-type pathology tended to occur more frequently in the group with GBA mutations compared to matched Parkinson's disease controls. Clinical features comprised an early onset of the disease, the presence of hallucinations in 45% (14/31) and symptoms of cognitive decline or dementia in 48% (15/31) of patients. This study demonstrates that GBA mutations are found in British subjects at a higher frequency than any other known Parkinson's disease gene. This is the largest study to date on a non-Jewish patient sample with a detailed genotype/phenotype/pathological analyses which strengthens the hypothesis that GBA mutations represent a significant risk factor for the development of Parkinson's disease and suggest that to date, this is the most common genetic factor identified for the disease.
Parkinson's disease; GBA; Gaucher's disease; neuropathology
We performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in 1,713 Caucasian patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) and 3,978 controls. After replication in 3,361 cases and 4,573 controls, two strong association signals were observed: in the α-synuclein gene(SNCA) (rs2736990, OR=1.23, p=2.24×10−16) and at the MAPT locus (rs393152, OR=0.77, p=1.95×10−16). We exchanged data with colleagues performing a GWAS in Asian PD cases. Association at SNCA was replicated in the Asian GWAS1, confirming this as a major risk locus across populations. We were able to replicate the effect of a novel locus detected in the Asian cohort (PARK16, rs823128, OR=0.66, p=7.29×10−8) and provide evidence supporting the role of common variability around LRRK2 in modulating risk for PD (rs1491923, OR=1.14, p=1.55×10−5). These data demonstrate an unequivocal role for common genetic variability in the etiology of typical PD and suggest population specific genetic heterogeneity in this disease.
Neurology encompasses all aspects of medicine and surgery, but is closer to orthopaedic surgery than many other specialities. Both neurological deficits and bone disorders lead to locomotor system abnormalities, joint complications and limb problems. The main neurological conditions that require the attention of an orthopaedic surgeon are disorders that affect the lower motor neurones. The most common disorders in this group include neuromuscular disorders and traumatic peripheral nerve lesions. Upper motor neurone disorders such as cerebral palsy and stroke are also frequently seen and discussed, as are chronic conditions such as poliomyelitis. The management of these neurological problems is often coordinated in the neurology clinic, and this group, probably more than any other, requires a multidisciplinary team approach.
Charcot Marie Tooth (CMT) disease is a heterogeneous group of inherited peripheral motor and sensory neuropathies. CMT4H is an early onset autosomal recessive demyelinating neuropathy. The locus responsible for CMT4H was assigned to chromosome 12p11.21-q13.11 by homozygosity mapping and mutations in the Frabin gene (FGD4 Rho GDP/GTP exchange factor) were subsequently identified in six families.
We sequenced the Frabin gene in a cohort of 12 UK CMT families with clinically defined autosomal recessive demyelinating neuropathy.
We identified a novel homozygous Frabin p.R275X mutation in a family from Northern Ireland. The two affected cases in this family had a very slowly progressive neuropathy with both cases remaining ambulant into middle age. Examination of mRNA from lymphoblasts showed that this stop mutation caused very little nonsense mediated mRNA decay and the predominant mRNA species was the mutant form that is likely to be translated into a truncated protein.
This work extends the understanding of the pathogenesis of Frabin mutation-associated Charcot Marie Tooth (CMT) 4H and suggests that mutations in Frabin should also be considered in ambulant adults with CMT1.
= autosomal recessive;
= Charcot Marie Tooth;
= motor conduction velocity;
= Medical Research Council;
= nonsense mediated mRNA decay.
Autosomal recessive hereditary spastic paraplegia (ARHSP) with thin corpus callosum (TCC) is a common form of complex HSP. The genetic lesion underlying ARHSP-TCC was localized to chromosome 15q13-q15 and given the designation SPG11. Recently the gene encoding spatacsin (KIAA1840), has been shown to contain mutations that underlie the majority of ARHSP-TCC cases.
Here we present a complete analysis of the 40 coding exons of this gene in patients with sporadic (n = 25) or familial (20 probands) complex hereditary spastic paraplegia with and without thinning of the corpus callosum.
We identified seven mutations, including deletions, insertions and nonsense mutations, which were all predicted to lead to premature truncation of the protein.
We conclude that mutations on KIAA1840 are frequent in complex ARHSP but an infrequent cause of sporadic complex HSP.
We observed a severe autosomal recessive movement disorder in mice used within our laboratory. We pursued a series of experiments to define the genetic lesion underlying this disorder and to identify a cognate disease in humans with mutation at the same locus. Through linkage and sequence analysis we show here that this disorder is caused by a homozygous in-frame 18-bp deletion in Itpr1 (Itpr1Δ18/Δ18), encoding inositol 1,4,5-triphosphate receptor 1. A previously reported spontaneous Itpr1 mutation in mice causes a phenotype identical to that observed here. In both models in-frame deletion within Itpr1 leads to a decrease in the normally high level of Itpr1 expression in cerebellar Purkinje cells. Spinocerebellar ataxia 15 (SCA15), a human autosomal dominant disorder, maps to the genomic region containing ITPR1; however, to date no causal mutations had been identified. Because ataxia is a prominent feature in Itpr1 mutant mice, we performed a series of experiments to test the hypothesis that mutation at ITPR1 may be the cause of SCA15. We show here that heterozygous deletion of the 5′ part of the ITPR1 gene, encompassing exons 1–10, 1–40, and 1–44 in three studied families, underlies SCA15 in humans.
We have identified a spontaneous in-frame deletion mutation in the gene Itpr1 that causes a recessive movement disorder in mice. In an attempt to define whether any similar disease occurs in humans we performed a literature search for diseases linked to the human chromosomal region containing ITPR1. We identified the disease spinocerebellar ataxia 15 as linked to this region. High-density genomic analysis of affected members from three families revealed that disease in these patients was caused by deletion of a large portion of the region containing ITPR1. We show here that this mutation results in a dramatic reduction in ITPR1 in cells from these patients. These data show convincingly that ITPR1 deletion underlies spinocerebellar ataxia 15 in humans.
Hereditary spastic paraplegias (HSPs) are a clinically and genetically heterogeneous group of neurological diseases, which typically present with progressive lower extremity weakness and spasticity causing progressive walking difficulties. Complicating neurological or extraneurological features may be present.
We describe a 19-year-old male who was referred because of an action tremor of the hands; he later developed walking difficulties. Callosal atrophy was present on his cerebral magnetic resonance imaging scan, prompting genetic testing for SPG11, which revealed homozygous mutations.
The clinical features, differential diagnosis and management of SPG11, the most common form of autosomal recessive complicated HSP with a thin corpus callosum are discussed.
Tremor; SPG11; hereditary spastic paraplegia; spatacsin