Progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) is the most common atypical parkinsonian disorder. Abnormal tau inclusions, in selected regions of the brain, are a hallmark of the disease and the H1 haplotype of MAPT, the gene encoding tau, is the major risk factor in PSP. A 3-repeat and 4-repeat tau isoform ratio imbalance has been strongly implicated as a cause of disease. Thus, understanding tau isoform regional expression in disease and pathology-free states is crucial to elucidating mechanisms involved in PSP and other tauopathies. We used a tau-isoform specific fluorescent assay to investigate relative 4R-tau expression in 6 different brain regions in PSP cases and healthy controls. We identified marked difference in 4R-tau relative expression, both across brain regions and between MAPT haplotypes. Highest 4R-tau expression levels were identified in the globus pallidus as compared to pons, cerebellum and frontal cortex. 4R-tau expression levels were related to both the MAPT H1 and H1c haplotypes. Similar regional variation was seen in both PSP cases and controls.
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.
The definition of Parkinson’s disease (PD) is changing with the expansion of clinical phenomenology and improved understanding of environmental and genetic influences that impact on the pathogenesis of the disease at the cellular and molecular level. This had led to debate and discussion with as yet, no general acceptance of the direction that change should take either at the level of diagnosis or of what should and should not be sheltered under an umbrella of PD. This article is one contribution to this on-going discussion. There are two different themes running through the article - widening the definition of PD/LBD/synucleinopathies and the heterogeneity that exists within PD itself from a clinical, pathological and genetic per-spective. The conclusion reached is that in the future, further diagnostic categories will need to be recognized. These are likely to include - Parkinson’s syndrome, Parkinson’s syndrome likely to be Lewy body PD, clinical PD (defined by QSBB criteria), Lewy body disease (PD, LBD, REM SBD) and synucleinopathies (including LBD, MSA).
Parkinson’s disease; phenomenology; aetiology; pathology; pathogenesis; synucleinopathies
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
An intronic G4C2 hexanucleotide repeat expansion in C9ORF72 is a major cause of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal lobar degeneration. Several mechanisms including RNA toxicity, repeat-associated non-AUG translation mediated dipeptide protein aggregates, and haploinsufficiency of C9orf72 have been implicated in the molecular pathogenesis of this disorder. The aims of this study were to compare the use of two different Southern blot probes for detection of repeat expansions in an amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal lobar degeneration pathological cohort and to determine the levels of C9orf72 transcript variants and protein isoforms in patients versus control subjects. Our Southern blot studies identified smaller repeat expansions (250–1800 bp) that were only detectable with the flanking probe highlighting the potential for divergent results using different Southern blotting protocols that could complicate genotype–phenotype correlation studies. Further, we characterize a new C9orf72 antibody and show for the first time decreased C9orf72 protein levels in the frontal cortex from patients with a pathological hexanucleotide repeat expansion. These data suggest that a reduction in C9orf72 protein may be a consequence of the disease.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; C9orf72; Frontotemporal dementia; Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; Repeat expansion; Southern blotting
Myoclonus dystonia syndrome is a childhood onset hyperkinetic movement disorder characterized by predominant alcohol responsive upper body myoclonus and dystonia. A proportion of cases are due to mutations in the maternally imprinted SGCE gene. Previous studies have suggested that patients with SGCE mutations may have an increased rate of psychiatric disorders. We established a cohort of patients with myoclonus dystonia syndrome and SGCE mutations to determine the extent to which psychiatric disorders form part of the disease phenotype. In all, 89 patients with clinically suspected myoclonus dystonia syndrome were recruited from the UK and Ireland. SGCE was analysed using direct sequencing and for copy number variants. In those patients where no mutation was found TOR1A (GAG deletion), GCH1, THAP1 and NKX2-1 were also sequenced. SGCE mutation positive cases were systematically assessed using standardized psychiatric interviews and questionnaires and compared with a disability-matched control group of patients with alcohol responsive tremor. Nineteen (21%) probands had a SGCE mutation, five of which were novel. Recruitment of family members increased the affected SGCE mutation positive group to 27 of whom 21 (77%) had psychiatric symptoms. Obsessive–compulsive disorder was eight times more likely (P < 0.001) in mutation positive cases, compulsivity being the predominant feature (P < 0.001). Generalized anxiety disorder (P = 0.003) and alcohol dependence (P = 0.02) were five times more likely in mutation positive cases than tremor controls. SGCE mutations are associated with a specific psychiatric phenotype consisting of compulsivity, anxiety and alcoholism in addition to the characteristic motor phenotype. SGCE mutations are likely to have a pleiotropic effect in causing both motor and specific psychiatric symptoms.
myoclonus dystonia; SGCE; psychiatric disorders
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.
Previous associations between mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and idiopathic Parkinson disease (PD) have been inconsistent and contradictory. Our aim was to resolve these inconsistencies and determine whether mtDNA has a significant role in the risk of developing PD.
Two-stage genetic association study of 138 common mtDNA variants in 3,074 PD cases and 5,659 ethnically matched controls followed by meta-analysis of 6,140 PD cases and 13,280 controls.
In the association study, m.2158T>C and m.11251A>G were associated with a reduced risk of PD in both the discovery and replication cohorts. None of the common European mtDNA haplogroups were consistently associated with PD, but pooling of discovery and replication cohorts revealed a protective association with “super-haplogroup” JT. In the meta-analysis, there was a reduced risk of PD with haplogroups J, K, and T and super-haplogroup JT, and an increase in the risk of PD with super-haplogroup H.
In a 2-stage association study of mtDNA variants and PD, we confirm the reduced risk of PD with super-haplogroup JT and resolve this at the J1b level. Meta-analysis explains the previous inconsistent associations that likely arise through sampling effects. The reduced risk of PD with haplogroups J, K, and T is mirrored by an increased risk of PD in super-haplogroup HV, which increases survival after sepsis. Antagonistic pleiotropy between mtDNA haplogroups may thus be shaping the genetic landscape in humans, leading to an increased risk of PD in later life.
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.
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.
We and others have recently reported an association between ALS and single nucleotide polymorphisms on chromosome 9p21 in several populations. Here we show that the associated haplotype is the same in all populations and that several families previously shown to have genetic linkage to this region also share this haplotype. The most parsimonious explanation of these data is that there is a single founder for this form of disease.
Genetics; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; frontotemporal dementia; Finland
The chromosome 9p21 amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-frontotemporal dementia (ALS-FTD) locus contains one of the last major unidentified autosomal dominant genes underlying these common neurodegenerative diseases. We have previously shown that a founder haplotype, covering the MOBKL2b, IFNK and C9ORF72 genes, is present in the majority of cases linked to this region. Here we show that there is a large hexanucleotide (GGGGCC) repeat expansion in the first intron of C9ORF72 on the affected haplotype. This repeat expansion segregates perfectly with disease in the Finnish population, underlying 46.0% of familial ALS and 21.1% of sporadic ALS in that population. Taken together with the D90A SOD1 mutation, 87% of familial ALS in Finland is now explained by a simple monogenic cause. The repeat expansion is also present in one third of familial ALS cases of outbred European descent making it the most common genetic cause of these fatal neurodegenerative diseases identified to date.
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.
We aimed to accurately estimate the frequency of a hexanucleotide repeat expansion in C9orf72 that has been associated with a large proportion of cases of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD).
We screened 4448 patients diagnosed with ALS (El Escorial criteria) and 1425 patients with FTD (Lund-Manchester criteria) from 17 regions worldwide for the GGGGCC hexanucleotide expansion using a repeat-primed PCR assay. We assessed familial disease status on the basis of self-reported family history of similar neurodegenerative diseases at the time of sample collection. We compared haplotype data for 262 patients carrying the expansion with the known Finnish founder risk haplotype across the chromosomal locus. We calculated age-related penetrance using the Kaplan-Meier method with data for 603 individuals with the expansion.
In patients with sporadic ALS, we identified the repeat expansion in 236 (7·0%) of 3377 white individuals from the USA, Europe, and Australia, two (4·1%) of 49 black individuals from the USA, and six (8·3%) of 72 Hispanic individuals from the USA. The mutation was present in 217 (39·3%) of 552 white individuals with familial ALS from Europe and the USA. 59 (6·0%) of 981 white Europeans with sporadic FTD had the mutation, as did 99 (24·8%) of 400 white Europeans with familial FTD. Data for other ethnic groups were sparse, but we identified one Asian patient with familial ALS (from 20 assessed) and two with familial FTD (from three assessed) who carried the mutation. The mutation was not carried by the three Native Americans or 360 patients from Asia or the Pacific Islands with sporadic ALS who were tested, or by 41 Asian patients with sporadic FTD. All patients with the repeat expansion had (partly or fully) the founder haplotype, suggesting a one-off expansion occurring about 1500 years ago. The pathogenic expansion was non-penetrant in individuals younger than 35 years, 50% penetrant by 58 years, and almost fully penetrant by 80 years.
A common Mendelian genetic lesion in C9orf72 is implicated in many cases of sporadic and familial ALS and FTD. Testing for this pathogenic expansion should be considered in the management and genetic counselling of patients with these fatal neurodegenerative diseases.
Full funding sources listed at end of paper (see Acknowledgments).
Parkinson's disease (PD) occurs in both familial and sporadic forms, and both monogenic and complex genetic factors have been identified. Early onset PD (EOPD) is particularly associated with autosomal recessive (AR) mutations, and three genes, PARK2, PARK7 and PINK1, have been found to carry mutations leading to AR disease. Since mutations in these genes account for less than 10% of EOPD patients, we hypothesized that further recessive genetic factors are involved in this disorder, which may appear in extended runs of homozygosity.
We carried out genome wide SNP genotyping to look for extended runs of homozygosity (ROHs) in 1,445 EOPD cases and 6,987 controls. Logistic regression analyses showed an increased level of genomic homozygosity in EOPD cases compared to controls. These differences are larger for ROH of 9 Mb and above, where there is a more than three-fold increase in the proportion of cases carrying a ROH. These differences are not explained by occult recessive mutations at existing loci. Controlling for genome wide homozygosity in logistic regression analyses increased the differences between cases and controls, indicating that in EOPD cases ROHs do not simply relate to genome wide measures of inbreeding. Homozygosity at a locus on chromosome19p13.3 was identified as being more common in EOPD cases as compared to controls. Sequencing analysis of genes and predicted transcripts within this locus failed to identify a novel mutation causing EOPD in our cohort.
There is an increased rate of genome wide homozygosity in EOPD, as measured by an increase in ROHs. These ROHs are a signature of inbreeding and do not necessarily harbour disease-causing genetic variants. Although there might be other regions of interest apart from chromosome 19p13.3, we lack the power to detect them with this analysis.
We and others have recently reported an association between amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and single nucleotide polymorphisms on chromosome 9p21 in several populations. Here we show that the associated haplotype is the same in all populations and that several families previously shown to have genetic linkage to this region also share this haplotype. The most parsimonious explanation of these data are that there is a single founder for this form of disease.
Genetics; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Frontotemporal dementia; Finland
We performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in 1705 Parkinson's disease (PD) UK patients and 5175 UK controls, the largest sample size so far for a PD GWAS. Replication was attempted in an additional cohort of 1039 French PD cases and 1984 controls for the 27 regions showing the strongest evidence of association (P< 10−4). We replicated published associations in the 4q22/SNCA and 17q21/MAPT chromosome regions (P< 10−10) and found evidence for an additional independent association in 4q22/SNCA. A detailed analysis of the haplotype structure at 17q21 showed that there are three separate risk groups within this region. We found weak but consistent evidence of association for common variants located in three previously published associated regions (4p15/BST1, 4p16/GAK and 1q32/PARK16). We found no support for the previously reported SNP association in 12q12/LRRK2. We also found an association of the two SNPs in 4q22/SNCA with the age of onset of the disease.
Over recent years small submicroscopic DNA copy-number variants (CNVs) have been highlighted as an important source of variation in the human genome, human phenotypic diversity and disease susceptibility. Consequently, there is a pressing need for the development of methods that allow the efficient, accurate and cheap measurement of genomic copy number polymorphisms in clinical cohorts. We have developed a simple competitive PCR based method to determine DNA copy number which uses the entire genome of a single chimpanzee as a competitor thus eliminating the requirement for competitive sequences to be synthesized for each assay. This results in the requirement for only a single reference sample for all assays and dramatically increases the potential for large numbers of loci to be analysed in multiplex. In this study we establish proof of concept by accurately detecting previously characterized mutations at the PARK2 locus and then demonstrating the potential of quantitative interspecies competitive PCR (qicPCR) to accurately genotype CNVs in association studies by analysing chromosome 22q11 deletions in a sample of previously characterized patients and normal controls.