•Mutations in the ROC, COR and Kinase domain of LRRK2 alter the autophagic response to starvation.•LC3-I/II ratio following starvation is altered by mutations, as well as p62 and WIPI2 positive puncta.•This occurs independently of any alteration in downstream targets of mTORC1.
LRRK2 is one of the most important genetic contributors to Parkinson’s disease (PD). Point mutations in this gene cause an autosomal dominant form of PD, but to date no cellular phenotype has been consistently linked with mutations in each of the functional domains (ROC, COR and Kinase) of the protein product of this gene. In this study, primary fibroblasts from individuals carrying pathogenic mutations in the three central domains of LRRK2 were assessed for alterations in the autophagy/lysosomal pathway using a combination of biochemical and cellular approaches. Mutations in all three domains resulted in alterations in markers for autophagy/lysosomal function compared to wild type cells. These data highlight the autophagy and lysosomal pathways as read outs for pathogenic LRRK2 function and as a marker for disease, and provide insight into the mechanisms linking LRRK2 function and mutations.
LRRK2, leucine rich repeat kinase 2; ROC, ras of complex proteins; COR, C-terminal of ROC; PD, Parkinson’s disease; ICC, Immunocytochemistry; LRRK2; Parkinson’s disease; Autophagy; Lysosomes; Signaling pathways
The detection of α-synuclein (α-syn) in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of patients with synucleinopathy has yielded promising but inconclusive results. The aim of the present study was to determine the diagnostic value of α-syn as a biological marker for Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) vs. normal subjects and patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), after strict control of several recognized confounders. Sixteen patients with DLB, 18 patients with AD and 22 age- and sex-matched normal controls (CTRL) were recruited. The levels of total α-syn in CSF were measured using a novel enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. There was a significant increase of CSF α-syn levels in DLB patients as compared to the CTRL and AD groups (P= 0.049 and 0.01 respectively). ROC analysis revealed that increased α-syn was 81.8% specific for the discrimination of DLB vs. CTRL and 90% vs. AD. However, sensitivity was lower (56.2 % and 50% respectively). These findings provide evidence for a possible diagnostic role of α-syn as a surrogate biomarker for DLB.
The leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) gene was found to play a role in the pathogenesis of both familial and sporadic Parkinson’s disease (PD). LRRK2 encodes a large multi-domain protein that is expressed in different tissues. To date, the physiological and pathological functions of LRRK2 are not clearly defined. In this study we have explored the role of LRRK2 in controlling vesicle trafficking in different cellular or animal models and using various readouts. In neuronal cells, the presence of LRRK2G2019S pathological mutant determines increased extracellular dopamine levels either under basal conditions or upon nicotine stimulation. Moreover, mutant LRRK2 affects the levels of dopamine receptor D1 on the membrane surface in neuronal cells or animal models. Ultrastructural analysis of PC12-derived cells expressing mutant LRRK2G2019S shows an altered intracellular vesicle distribution. Taken together, our results point to the key role of LRRK2 to control vesicle trafficking in neuronal cells.
Mutations in LRRK2 are the most common genetic cause of Parkinson's disease (PD). The most prevalent LRRK2 mutation is the G2019S coding change, located in the kinase domain of this complex multi-domain protein. The majority of G2019S autopsy cases feature typical Lewy Body pathology with a clinical phenotype almost indistinguishable from idiopathic PD (iPD). Here we have investigated the biochemical characteristics of α-synuclein in G2019S LRRK2 PD post-mortem material, in comparison to pathology-matched iPD. Immunohistochemistry with pS129 α-synuclein antibody showed that the medulla is heavily affected with pathology in G2019S PD whilst the basal ganglia (BG), limbic and frontal cortical regions demonstrated comparable pathology scores between G2019S PD and iPD. Significantly lower levels of the highly aggregated α-synuclein species in urea–SDS fractions were observed in G2019S cases compared to iPD in the BG and limbic cortex. Our data, albeit from a small number of cases, highlight a difference in the biochemical properties of aggregated α-synuclein in G2019S linked PD compared to iPD, despite a similar histopathological presentation. This divergence in solubility is most notable in the basal ganglia, a region that is affected preclinically and is damaged before overt dopaminergic cell death.
•We compared α-synuclein biochemistry from LRRK2 G2019S and idiopathic PD brains.•We used four G2019S PD post-mortem brains and pathology matched idiopathic PD cases.•G2019S PD and idiopathic PD cases show comparable Limbic stage Lewy Body pathology.•Minimal SDS-insoluble α-synuclein seen in G2019S PD in contrast to idiopathic PD•We propose a divergent nature of α-synuclein pathogenic species in G2019S PD.
LRRK2; G2019S; α-Synuclein; Differential solubility; Immunohistochemistry
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.
c-Src kinase activity is regulated by phosphorylation of Y527 and Y416. Y527 phosphorylation stabilizes a closed conformation, which suppresses kinase activity towards substrates, whereas phosphorylation at Y416 promotes an elevated kinase activity by stabilizing the activation loop in a manner permissive for substrate binding. Here we investigated the correlation of Y416 phosphorylation with c-Src activity when c-Src was locked into the open and closed conformations (by mutations Y527F and Q528E, P529E, G530I respectively). Consistent with prior findings, we found Y416 to be more greatly phosphorylated when c-Src was in an open, active conformation. However, we also observed an appreciable amount of Y416 was phosphorylated when c-Src was in a closed, repressed conformation under conditions by which c-Src was unable to phosphorylate substrate STAT3. The phosphorylation of Y416 in the closed conformation arose by autophosphorylation, since abolishing kinase activity by mutating the ATP binding site (K295M) prevented phosphorylation. Basal Y416 phosphorylation correlated positively with cellular levels of c-Src suggesting autophosphorylation depended on self-association. Using sedimentation velocity analysis on cell lysate with fluorescence detection optics, we confirmed that c-Src forms monomers and dimers, with the open conformation also forming a minor population of larger mass complexes. Collectively, our studies suggest a model by which dimerization of c-Src primes c-Src via Y416 phosphorylation to enable rapid potentiation of activity when Src adopts an open conformation. Once in the open conformation, c-Src can amplify the response by recruiting and phosphorylating substrates such as STAT3 and increasing the extent of autophosphorylation.
•We map all five missense SNCA mutations on the proposed α-synuclein protein models.•4 mutations cluster around the protein loop linking the two legs of the hairpin.•4 mutations cluster around the point of hairpin convergence for tetramer formation.
With the recent identification of two new pathogenic mutations in α-synuclein, we map the five known pathogenic mutations onto the best available models of the protein structure. We show that four of the five mutations map to a potential fold in the protein with the exception being the A30P mutation in which the substitution would be expected to have a profound effect on protein structure. We discuss this localisation in terms of the proposed mechanisms for mutation pathogenicity.
α-Synuclein; SNCA; Genetics; Parkinson's disease
To date, a plethora of studies have provided evidence favoring an association between Gaucher disease (GD) and Parkinson’s disease (PD). GD, the most common lysosomal storage disorder, results from the diminished activity of the lysosomal enzyme β-glucocerebrosidase (GCase), caused by mutations in the β-glucocerebrosidase gene (GBA). Alpha-synuclein (ASYN), a presynaptic protein, has been strongly implicated in PD pathogenesis. ASYN may in part be degraded by the lysosomes and may itself aberrantly impact lysosomal function. Therefore, a putative link between deficient GCase and ASYN, involving lysosomal dysfunction, has been proposed to be responsible for the risk for PD conferred by GBA mutations. In this current work, we aimed to investigate the effects of pharmacological inhibition of GCase on ASYN accumulation/aggregation, as well as on lysosomal function, in differentiated SH-SY5Y cells and in primary neuronal cultures. Following profound inhibition of the enzyme activity, we did not find significant alterations in ASYN levels, or any changes in the clearance or formation of its oligomeric species. We further observed no significant impairment of the lysosomal degradation machinery. These findings suggest that additional interaction pathways together with aberrant GCase and ASYN must govern this complex relation between GD and PD.
To understand the relation between risk genes for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and their influence on biomarkers for AD, we examined the association of AD in the Finnish cohort with single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from top AlzGene loci, genome-wide association studies (GWAS), and candidate gene studies; and tested the correlation between these SNPs and AD markers Aβ1–42, total tau (t-tau), and phosphorylated tau (p-tau) in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).
We tested 25 SNPs for genetic association with clinical AD in our cohort comprised of 890 AD patients and 701-age matched healthy controls using logistic regression. For the correlational study with biomarkers, we tested 36 SNPs in a subset of 222 AD patients with available CSF using mixed models. Statistical analyses were adjusted for age, gender and APOE status. False discovery rate for multiple testing was applied. All participants were from academic hospital and research institutions in Finland.
APOE-ε4, CLU rs11136000, and MS4A4A rs2304933 correlated with significantly decreased Aβ1–42 (corrected p<0.05). At an uncorrected p<0.05, PPP3R1 rs1868402 and MAPT rs2435211 were related with increased t-tau; while SORL1 rs73595277 and MAPT rs16940758, with increased p-tau. Only TOMM40 rs2075650 showed association with clinical AD after adjusting for APOE-ε4 (p = 0.007), but not after multiple test correction (p>0.05).
We provide evidence that APOE-ε4, CLU and MS4A4A, which have been identified in GWAS to be associated with AD, also significantly reduced CSF Aβ1–42 in AD. None of the other AlzGene and GWAS loci showed significant effects on CSF tau. The effects of other SNPs on CSF biomarkers and clinical AD diagnosis did not reach statistical significance. Our findings suggest that APOE-ε4, CLU and MS4A4A influence both AD risk and CSF Aβ1–42.
We report a British family with young-onset Parkinson’s disease (PD) and a G51D SNCA mutation that segregates with the disease. Family history was consistent with autosomal dominant inheritance as both the father and sister of the proband developed levodopa-responsive parkinsonism with onset in their late thirties. Clinical features show similarity to those seen in families with SNCA triplication and to cases of A53T SNCA mutation. Post-mortem brain examination of the proband revealed atrophy affecting frontal and temporal lobes in addition to the caudate, putamen, globus pallidus and amygdala. There was severe loss of pigmentation in the substantia nigra and pallor of the locus coeruleus. Neuronal loss was most marked in frontal and temporal cortices, hippocampal CA2/3 subregions, substantia nigra, locus coeruleus and dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus. The cellular pathology included widespread and frequent neuronal α-synuclein immunoreactive inclusions of variable morphology and oligodendroglial inclusions similar to the glial cytoplasmic inclusions of multiple system atrophy (MSA). Both inclusion types were ubiquitin and p62 positive and were labelled with phosphorylation-dependent anti-α-synuclein antibodies In addition, TDP-43 immunoreactive inclusions were observed in limbic regions and in the striatum. Together the data show clinical and neuropathological similarities to both the A53T SNCA mutation and multiplication cases. The cellular neuropathological features of this case share some characteristics of both PD and MSA with additional unique striatal and neocortical pathology. Greater understanding of the disease mechanism underlying the G51D mutation could aid in understanding of α-synuclein biology and its impact on disease phenotype.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00401-013-1096-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Parkinson’s disease; Multiple system atrophy; α-Synuclein; SNCA
Goals of this study were to: (1) develop distributional maps of modern rodent genera throughout the countries of South Africa, Lesotho, and Swaziland by georeferencing museum specimens; (2) assess habitat preferences for genera by cross-referencing locality position with South African vegetation; and (3) identify mean annual precipitation and temperature range where the genera are located. Conterminous South Africa including the countries of Lesotho and Swaziland Digital databases of rodent museum specimens housed in the Ditsong National Museum of Natural History, South Africa (DM), and the Division of Mammals, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, United States (NMNH), were acquired and then sorted into a subset of specimens with associated coordinate data. The coordinate data were then used to develop distributional maps for the rodent genera present within the study area. Percent habitat occupation and descriptive statistics for six climatic variables were then determined for each genus by cross-referencing locality positions with vegetation and climatic maps. This report presents a series of maps illustrating the distribution of 35 rodent genera based on 19,471 geo-referenced specimens obtained from two major collections. Inferred habitat use by taxon is provided for both locality and specimen percent occurrence at three hierarchical habitat levels: biome, bioregion, and vegetation unit. Descriptive statistics for six climatic variables are also provided for each genus based on locality and specimen percent incidence. As rodent faunas are commonly used in paleoenvironmental reconstructions, an accurate assessment of rodent environmental tolerance ranges is necessary before confidence can be placed in an actualistic model. While the data presented here represent only a subset of the modern geographic distributions for many of the taxa examined, a wide range of environmental regimes are observed, suggesting that more research is necessary in order to accurately reconstruct an environmental signature when these taxa are found in the fossil record.
Distribution maps; environmental tolerances; GIS; rodents; South Africa; vegetation
Lewy body in the substantia nigra is a cardinal pathological feature of Parkinson's disease. Despite enormous efforts, the cause-and-effect relationship between Lewy body formation and the disorder is yet to be explicitly unveiled.
Here, we showed that radiating amyloid fibrils (RAFs) were instantly developed on the surface of synthetic lipid membranes from the β-sheet free oligomeric species of α-synuclein through a unit-assembly process. The burgeoning RAFs were successfully matured by feeding them with additional oligomers, which led to concomitant dramatic shrinkage and disintegration of the membranes by pulling off lipid molecules to the extending fibrils. Mitochondria and lysosomes were demonstrated to be disrupted by the oligomeric α-synuclein via membrane-dependent fibril formation.
The physical structure formation of amyloid fibrils, therefore, could be considered as detrimental to the cells by affecting membrane integrity of the intracellular organelles, which might be a molecular cause for the neuronal degeneration observed in Parkinson's disease.
The recent Parkinson Disease GWAS Consortium meta-analysis and replication study reports association at several previously confirmed risk loci SNCA, MAPT, GAK/DGKQ, and HLA and identified a novel risk locus at RIT2. To further explore functional consequences of these associations, we investigated modification of gene expression in prefrontal cortex brain samples of pathologically confirmed PD cases (N = 26) and controls (N = 24) by 67 associated SNPs in these 5 loci. Association between the eSNPs and expression was evaluated using a 2-degrees of freedom test of both association and difference in association between cases and controls, adjusted for relevant covariates. SNPs at each of the 5 loci were tested for cis-acting effects on all probes within 250 kb of each locus. Trans-effects of the SNPs on the 39,122 probes passing all QC on the microarray were also examined. From the analysis of cis-acting SNP effects, several SNPs in the MAPT region show significant association to multiple nearby probes, including two strongly correlated probes targeting the gene LOC644246 and the duplicated genes LRRC37A and LRRC37A2, and a third uncorrelated probe targeting the gene DCAKD. Significant cis-associations were also observed between SNPs and two probes targeting genes in the HLA region on chromosome 6. Expanding the association study to examine trans effects revealed an additional 23 SNP-probe associations reaching statistical significance (p<2.8×10−8) including SNPs from the SNCA, MAPT and RIT2 regions. These findings provide additional context for the interpretation of PD associated SNPs identified in recent GWAS as well as potential insight into the mechanisms underlying the observed SNP associations.
Two gammaherpesviruses, Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) (Lymphocryptovirus genus) and Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) (Rhadinovirus genus) have been implicated in the etiology of AIDS-associated lymphomas. Homologs of these viruses have been identified in macaques and other non-human primates. In order to assess the association of these viruses with non-human primate disease, archived lymphoma samples were screened for the presence of macaque lymphocryptovirus (LCV) homologs of EBV, and macaque rhadinoviruses belonging to the RV1 lineage of KSHV homologs or the more distant RV2 lineage of Old World primate rhadinoviruses. Viral loads were determined by QPCR and infected cells were identified by immunolabeling for different viral proteins. The lymphomas segregated into three groups. The first group (n = 6) was associated with SIV/SHIV infections, contained high levels of LCV (1–25 genomes/cell) and expressed the B-cell antigens CD20 or BLA.36. A strong EBNA-2 signal was detected in the nuclei of the neoplastic cells in one of the LCV-high lymphomas, indicative of a type III latency stage. None of the lymphomas in this group stained for the LCV viral capsid antigen (VCA) lytic marker. The second group (n = 5) was associated with D-type simian retrovirus-2 (SRV-2) infections, contained high levels of RV2 rhadinovirus (9–790 genomes/cell) and expressed the CD3 T-cell marker. The third group (n = 3) was associated with SIV/SHIV infections, contained high levels of RV2 rhadinovirus (2–260 genomes/cell) and was negative for both CD20 and CD3. In both the CD3-positive and CD3/CD20-negative lymphomas, the neoplastic cells stained strongly for markers of RV2 lytic replication. None of the lymphomas had detectable levels of retroperitoneal fibromatosis herpesvirus (RFHV), the macaque RV1 homolog of KSHV. Our data suggest etiological roles for both lymphocryptoviruses and RV2 rhadinoviruses in the development of simian AIDS-associated lymphomas and indicate that the virus-infected neoplastic lymphoid cells are derived from different lymphocyte lineages and differentiation stages.
The incidence of Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma increased in conjunction with the epidemic of HIV disease and AIDS. These malignancies are now known to be associated with secondary infections with a gammaherpesvirus; KS, with the Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) and lymphoma, with both KSHV and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). Similar AIDS-related malignancies have been observed in monkeys with simian AIDS and monkey gammaherpesviruses related to KSHV and EBV have been implicated in the development of disease. The study of monkey models of AIDS-related malignancies provides important approaches for understanding the role of gammaherpesviruses in AIDS-related tumorigenesis. Here we have used a combined molecular and immunological approach to identify, quantitate and localize infections of gammaherpesviruses in AIDS-associated lymphomas in macaques. We found high levels of macaque viruses related to EBV and KSHV in the tumor cells of distinct types of macaque lymphomas, suggesting that the virus-infected tumor cells belong to different lymphocyte lineages and differentiation stages.
The ROCO proteins are a family of large, multidomain proteins characterised by the presence of a Ras of complex proteins (ROC) domain followed by a COR, or C-terminal of ROC, domain. It has previously been shown that the ROC domain of the human ROCO protein Leucine Rich Repeat Kinase 2 (LRRK2) controls its kinase activity. Here, the ability of the ROC domain of another human ROCO protein, Death Associated Protein Kinase 1 (DAPK1), to bind GTP and control its kinase activity has been evaluated. In contrast to LRRK2, loss of GTP binding by DAPK1 does not result in loss of kinase activity, instead acting to modulate this activity. These data highlight the ROC domain of DAPK1 as a target for modifiers of this proteins function, and casts light on the role of ROC domains as intramolecular regulators in complex proteins with implications for a broad range of human diseases.
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.
► Summary of the existing literature on gene expression in Parkinson's disease, concentrating on alterations in gene expression in the brain. ► Analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of a genome wide approach to assessing gene expression in Parkinson's. ► A preview of what lies ahead for gene expression in Parkinson's disease as technology advances.
The study of gene expression has undergone a transformation in the past decade as the benefits of the sequencing of the human genome have made themselves felt. Increasingly, genome wide approaches are being applied to the analysis of gene expression in human disease as a route to understanding the underlying pathogenic mechanisms. In this review, we will summarise current state of gene expression studies of the brain in Parkinson's disease, and examine how these techniques can be used to gain an insight into aetiology of this devastating disorder.
Parkinson's disease; Microarray; Gene expression; Neuropathology; Genome wide
The colorimetric properties of resorcinarene solutions had not been investigated since Baeyer’s initial synthesis. We recently reported that solutions containing resorcinarene macrocycles develop color upon heating or standing. In the presence of saccharides, these solutions exhibit significant color changes which are easily seen. We herein present strong evidence that the solution color is due to macrocycle ring opening and oxidation. The optical responses to saccharides are due to complexation of the sugar with the acyclic chromophores. We apply these mechanistic insights toward the challenging problem of the visual detection of neutral oligosaccharides by simple chromogens. In addition, we also report the first single-crystal X-ray crystal structure determination of a rarely observed “diamond” resorcinarene stereoisomer.
The G2019S mutation in the multidomain protein leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) is one of the most frequently identified genetic causes of Parkinson’s disease (PD). Clinically, LRRK2(G2019S) carriers with PD and idiopathic PD patients have a very similar disease with brainstem and cortical Lewy pathology (α-synucleinopathy) as histopathological hallmarks. Some patients have Tau pathology. Enhanced kinase function of the LRRK2(G2019S) mutant protein is a prime suspect mechanism for carriers to develop PD but observations in LRRK2 knock-out, G2019S knock-in and kinase-dead mutant mice suggest that LRRK2 steady-state abundance of the protein also plays a determining role. One critical question concerning the molecular pathogenesis in LRRK2(G2019S) PD patients is whether α-synuclein (aSN) has a contributory role. To this end we generated mice with high expression of either wildtype or G2019S mutant LRRK2 in brainstem and cortical neurons. High levels of these LRRK2 variants left endogenous aSN and Tau levels unaltered and did not exacerbate or otherwise modify α-synucleinopathy in mice that co-expressed high levels of LRRK2 and aSN in brain neurons. On the contrary, in some lines high LRRK2 levels improved motor skills in the presence and absence of aSN-transgene-induced disease. Therefore, in many neurons high LRRK2 levels are well tolerated and not sufficient to drive or exacerbate neuronal α-synucleinopathy.
Currently, there are no reported genetic predictors of motor symptom progression in Parkinson’s disease (PD). In familial PD, disease severity is associated with higher α-synuclein (SNCA) expression levels, and in postmortem studies expression varies with SNCA genetic variants. Furthermore, SNCA is a well-known risk factor for PD occurrence. We recruited Parkinson’s patients from the communities of three central California counties to investigate the influence of SNCA genetic variants on motor symptom progression in idiopathic PD. We repeatedly assessed this cohort of patients over an average of 5.1 years for motor symptom changes employing the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS). Of 363 population-based incident PD cases diagnosed less than 3 years from baseline assessment, 242 cases were successfully re-contacted and 233 were re-examined at least once. Of subjects lost to follow-up, 69% were due to death. Adjusting for covariates, risk of faster decline of motor function as measured by annual increase in motor UPDRS exam score was increased 4-fold in carriers of the REP1 263bp promoter variant (OR 4.03, 95%CI:1.57–10.4). Our data also suggest a contribution to increased risk by the G-allele for rs356165 (OR 1.66; 95%CI:0.96–2.88), and we observed a strong trend across categories when both genetic variants were considered (p for trend = 0.002). Our population-based study has demonstrated that SNCA variants are strong predictors of faster motor decline in idiopathic PD. SNCA may be a promising target for therapies and may help identify patients who will benefit most from early interventions. This is the first study to link SNCA to motor symptom decline in a longitudinal progression study.
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.
Leucine Rich Repeat Kinase 2 (LRRK2) is a 2527 amino acid member of the ROCO family of proteins, possessing a complex, multidomain structure including a GTPase domain (termed ROC, for Ras of Complex proteins) and a kinase domain1. The discovery in 2004 of mutations in LRRK2 that cause Parkinson's disease (PD) resulted in LRRK2 being the focus of a huge volume of research into its normal function and how the protein goes awry in the disease state2,3. Initial investigations into the function of LRRK2 focused on its enzymatic activities4-6. Although a clear picture has yet to emerge of a consistent alteration in these due to mutations, data from a number of groups has highlighted the importance of the kinase activity of LRRK2 in cell death linked to mutations7,8. Recent publications have reported inhibitors targeting the kinase activity of LRRK2, providing a key experimental tool9-11. In light of these data, it is likely that the enzymatic properties of LRRK2 afford us an important window into the biology of this protein, although whether they are potential drug targets for Parkinson's is open to debate.
A number of different approaches have been used to assay the kinase activity of LRRK2. Initially, assays were carried out using epitope tagged protein overexpressed in mammalian cell lines and immunoprecipitated, with the assays carried out using this protein immobilised on agarose beads4,5,7. Subsequently, purified recombinant fragments of LRRK2 in solution have also been used, for example a GST tagged fragment purified from insect cells containing residues 970 to 2527 of LRRK212. Recently, Daniëls et al. reported the isolation of full length LRRK2 in solution from human embryonic kidney cells, however this protein is not widely available13. In contrast, the GST fusion truncated form of LRRK2 is commercially available (from Invitrogen, see table 1 for details), and provides a convenient tool for demonstrating an assay for LRRK2 kinase activity. Several different outputs for LRRK2 kinase activity have been reported. Autophosphorylation of LRRK2 itself, phosphorylation of Myelin Basic Protein (MBP) as a generic kinase substrate and phosphorylation of an artificial substrate - dubbed LRRKtide, based upon phosphorylation of threonine 558 in Moesin - have all been used, as have a series of putative physiological substrates including α-synuclein, Moesin and 4-EBP14-17. The status of these proteins as substrates for LRRK2 remains unclear, and as such the protocol described below will focus on using MBP as a generic substrate, noting the utility of this system to assay LRRK2 kinase activity directed against a range of potential substrates.
Molecular Biology; Issue 59; Kinase; LRRK2; Parkinson's disease
X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy (X-ALD) is characterized by marked phenotypic variation ranging from adrenomyeloneuropathy (AMN) to childhood cerebral ALD (CCALD). X-ALD is caused by mutations in the ABCD1 gene, but no genotype-phenotype correlation has been established so far and modifier gene variants are suspected to modulate phenotypes. Specific classes of lipids, enriched in very long-chain fatty acids that accumulate in plasma and tissues from X-ALD patients are suspected to be involved in the neuroinflammatory process of CCALD. CD1 proteins are lipid- antigen presenting molecules encoded by five CD1 genes in human (CD1A-E). Association studies with 23 tag SNPs covering the CD1 locus was performed in 52 patients with AMN and 87 patients with CCALD. The minor allele of rs973742 located 4-kb downstream from CD1D was significantly more frequent in AMN patients (χ2 = 7.6; P = 0.006). However, this association was no longer significant after Bonferroni correction for multiple testing. The other polymorphisms of the CD1 locus did not reveal significant association. Further analysis of other CD1D polymorphisms did not detect stronger association with X-ALD phenotypes. Although the association with rs973742 warrants further investigations, these results indicate that the genetic variants of CD1 genes do not contribute markedly to the phenotypic variance of X-ALD.
Biomarkers derived from gene expression profiling data may have a high false-positive rate and must be rigorously validated using independent clinical data sets, which are not always available. Although animal model systems could provide alternative data sets to formulate hypotheses and limit the number of signatures to be tested in clinical samples, the predictive power of such an approach is not yet proven. The present study aims to analyze the molecular signatures of liver cancer in a c-MET-transgenic mouse model and investigate its prognostic relevance to human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Tissue samples were obtained from tumor (TU), adjacent non-tumor (AN) and distant normal (DN) liver in Tet-operator regulated (TRE) human c-MET transgenic mice (n = 21) as well as from a Chinese cohort of 272 HBV- and 9 HCV-associated HCC patients. Whole genome microarray expression profiling was conducted in Affymetrix gene expression chips, and prognostic significances of gene expression signatures were evaluated across the two species. Our data revealed parallels between mouse and human liver tumors, including down-regulation of metabolic pathways and up-regulation of cell cycle processes. The mouse tumors were most similar to a subset of patient samples characterized by activation of the Wnt pathway, but distinctive in the p53 pathway signals. Of potential clinical utility, we identified a set of genes that were down regulated in both mouse tumors and human HCC having significant predictive power on overall and disease-free survival, which were highly enriched for metabolic functions. In conclusions, this study provides evidence that a disease model can serve as a possible platform for generating hypotheses to be tested in human tissues and highlights an efficient method for generating biomarker signatures before extensive clinical trials have been initiated.