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1.  A rare sequence variant in intron 1 of THAP1 is associated with primary dystonia 
Although coding variants in THAP1 have been causally associated with primary dystonia, the contribution of noncoding variants remains uncertain. Herein, we examine a previously identified Intron 1 variant (c.71+9C>A, rs200209986). Among 1672 subjects with mainly adult-onset primary dystonia, 12 harbored the variant in contrast to 1/1574 controls (P < 0.01). Dystonia classification included cervical dystonia (N = 3), laryngeal dystonia (adductor subtype, N = 3), jaw-opening oromandibular dystonia (N = 1), blepharospasm (N = 2), and unclassified (N = 3). Age of dystonia onset ranged from 25 to 69 years (mean = 54 years). In comparison to controls with no identified THAP1 sequence variants, the c.71+9C>A variant was associated with an elevated ratio of Isoform 1 (NM_018105) to Isoform 2 (NM_199003) in leukocytes. In silico and minigene analyses indicated that c.71+9C>A alters THAP1 splicing. Lymphoblastoid cells harboring the c.71+9C>A variant showed extensive apoptosis with relatively fewer cells in the G2 phase of the cell cycle. Differentially expressed genes from lymphoblastoid cells revealed that the c.71+9C>A variant exerts effects on DNA synthesis, cell growth and proliferation, cell survival, and cytotoxicity. In aggregate, these data indicate that THAP1 c.71+9C>A is a risk factor for adult-onset primary dystonia.
doi:10.1002/mgg3.67
PMCID: PMC4049367  PMID: 24936516
Dystonia; DYT6; intronic variant; minigene assay; THAP1
2.  Analysis of the C9orf72 repeat in Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor and restless legs syndrome 
Parkinsonism & related disorders  2012;19(2):198-201.
The hexanucleotide expanded repeat (GGGGCC) in intron 1 of the C9orf72 gene is recognized as the most common genetic form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). However, as part of the clinical phenotype, some patients present with parkinsonism. The present study investigated the potential expansion or association of the C9orf72 repeat length with susceptibility to Parkinson’s disease and related disorders, essential tremor and restless legs syndrome. One restless legs syndrome patient was shown to harbor a repeat expansion, however on clinical follow-up this patient was observed to have developed frontotemporal dementia. There was no evidence of association of repeat length on disease risk or age-at-onset for any of the three disorders. Therefore the C9orf72 hexanucleotide repeat expansion appears to be specific to TDP-43 driven amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and dementia.
doi:10.1016/j.parkreldis.2012.09.013
PMCID: PMC3570692  PMID: 23084342
C9orf72; expanded repeat; PD; ET; RLS; genetic association
4.  Genotype-phenotype correlations in THAP1 dystonia: molecular foundations and description of new cases 
Parkinsonism & related disorders  2012;18(5):414-425.
An extensive variety of THAP1 sequence variants have been associated with focal, segmental and generalized dystonia with age of onset ranging from 3 to over 60 years. In previous work, we screened 1,114 subjects with mainly adult-onset primary dystonia (Neurology 2010;74:229-238) and identified 6 missense mutations in THAP1. For this report, we screened 750 additional subjects for mutations in coding regions of THAP1 and interrogated all published descriptions of THAP1 phenotypes (gender, age of onset, anatomical distribution of dystonia, family history and site of onset) to explore the possibility of THAP1 genotype-phenotype correlations and facilitate a deeper understanding of THAP1 pathobiology. We identified 5 additional missense mutations in THAP1 (p.A7D, p.K16E, p.S21C, p.R29Q, and p.I80V). Three of these variants are associated with appendicular tremors, which were an isolated or presenting sign in some of the affected subjects. Abductor laryngeal dystonia and mild blepharospasm can be manifestations of THAP1 mutations in some individuals. Overall, mean age of onset for THAP1 dystonia is 16.8 years and the most common sites of onset are the arm and neck, and the most frequently affected anatomical site is the neck. In addition, over half of patients exhibit either cranial or laryngeal involvement. Protein truncating mutations and missense mutations within the THAP domain of THAP1 tend to manifest at an earlier age and exhibit more extensive anatomical distributions than mutations localized to other regions of THAP1.
doi:10.1016/j.parkreldis.2012.02.001
PMCID: PMC3358360  PMID: 22377579
Dystonia; THAP1; DYT6; Spasmodic dysphonia; Tremor
5.  The c.-237_236GA>TT THAP1 Sequence Variant Does Not Increase Risk for Primary Dystonia 
Sequence variants in coding and non-coding regions of THAP1 have been associated with primary dystonia. In this study, 1446 Caucasian subjects with mainly adult-onset primary dystonia and 1520 controls were genotyped for a variant located in the 5’-untranslated region of THAP1 (c.-237_236GA>TT). Minor allele frequencies were 62/2892 (2.14%) and 55/3040 (1.81%) in subjects with dystonia and controls, respectively (P = 0.202). Subgroup analyses by gender and anatomical distribution also failed to attain statistical significance. In addition, there was no effect of the TT variant on expression levels of THAP1 transcript or protein. Our findings indicate that the c.-237_236GA>TT THAP1 sequence variant does not increase risk for adult-onset primary dystonia in Caucasians.
doi:10.1002/mds.23551
PMCID: PMC3171986  PMID: 21370264
dystonia; DYT6; high-resolution melting; untranslated region; THAP1
7.  Acute Flaccid Paralysis and West Nile Virus Infection 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2003;9(7):788-793.
Acute weakness associated with West Nile virus (WNV) infection has previously been attributed to a peripheral demyelinating process (Guillain-Barré syndrome); however, the exact etiology of this acute flaccid paralysis has not been systematically assessed. To thoroughly describe the clinical, laboratory, and electrodiagnostic features of this paralysis syndrome, we evaluated acute flaccid paralysis that developed in seven patients in the setting of acute WNV infection, consecutively identified in four hospitals in St. Tammany Parish and New Orleans, Louisiana, and Jackson, Mississippi. All patients had acute onset of asymmetric weakness and areflexia but no sensory abnormalities. Clinical and electrodiagnostic data suggested the involvement of spinal anterior horn cells, resulting in a poliomyelitis-like syndrome. In areas in which transmission is occurring, WNV infection should be considered in patients with acute flaccid paralysis. Recognition that such weakness may be of spinal origin may prevent inappropriate treatment and diagnostic testing.
doi:10.3201/eid0907.030129
PMCID: PMC3023428  PMID: 12890318
West Nile virus; poliomyelitis; spinal cord; electromyography; muscle; weakness; Guillain-Barré syndrome; research
8.  MRI characteristics and scoring in HDLS due to CSF1R gene mutations 
Neurology  2012;79(6):566-574.
Objective:
To describe the brain MRI characteristics of hereditary diffuse leukoencephalopathy with spheroids (HDLS) with known mutations in the colony-stimulating factor 1 receptor gene (CSF1R) on chromosome 5.
Methods:
We reviewed 20 brain MRI scans of 15 patients with autopsy- or biopsy-verified HDLS and CSF1R mutations. We assessed sagittal T1-, axial T1-, T2-, proton density-weighted and axial fluid-attenuated inversion recovery images for distribution of white matter lesions (WMLs), gray matter involvement, and atrophy. We calculated a severity score based on a point system (0−57) for each MRI scan.
Results:
Of the patients, 93% (14 of 15) demonstrated localized WMLs with deep and subcortical involvement, whereas one patient revealed generalized WMLs. All WMLs were bilateral but asymmetric and predominantly frontal. Fourteen patients had a rapidly progressive clinical course with an initial MRI mean total severity score of 16.7 points (range 10−33.5). Gray matter pathology and brainstem atrophy were absent, and the corticospinal tracts were involved late in the disease course. There was no enhancement, and there was minimal cerebellar pathology.
Conclusion:
Recognition of the typical MRI patterns of HDLS and the use of an MRI severity score might help during the diagnostic evaluation to characterize the natural history and to monitor potential future treatments. Indicators of rapid disease progression were symptomatic disease onset before 45 years, female sex, WMLs extending beyond the frontal regions, a MRI severity score greater than 15 points, and mutation type of deletion.
doi:10.1212/WNL.0b013e318263575a
PMCID: PMC3413763  PMID: 22843259
9.  Creation of an Open-Access, Mutation-Defined Fibroblast Resource for Neurological Disease Research 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e43099.
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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0043099
PMCID: PMC3428297  PMID: 22952635
10.  Ataxin-2 repeat-length variation and neurodegeneration 
Human Molecular Genetics  2011;20(16):3207-3212.
Expanded glutamine repeats of the ataxin-2 (ATXN2) protein cause spinocerebellar ataxia type 2 (SCA2), a rare neurodegenerative disorder. More recent studies have suggested that expanded ATXN2 repeats are a genetic risk factor for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) via an RNA-dependent interaction with TDP-43. Given the phenotypic diversity observed in SCA2 patients, we set out to determine the polymorphic nature of the ATXN2 repeat length across a spectrum of neurodegenerative disorders. In this study, we genotyped the ATXN2 repeat in 3919 neurodegenerative disease patients and 4877 healthy controls and performed logistic regression analysis to determine the association of repeat length with the risk of disease. We confirmed the presence of a significantly higher number of expanded ATXN2 repeat carriers in ALS patients compared with healthy controls (OR = 5.57; P= 0.001; repeat length >30 units). Furthermore, we observed significant association of expanded ATXN2 repeats with the development of progressive supranuclear palsy (OR = 5.83; P= 0.004; repeat length >30 units). Although expanded repeat carriers were also identified in frontotemporal lobar degeneration, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease patients, these were not significantly more frequent than in controls. Of note, our study identified a number of healthy control individuals who harbor expanded repeat alleles (31–33 units), which suggests caution should be taken when attributing specific disease phenotypes to these repeat lengths. In conclusion, our findings confirm the role of ATXN2 as an important risk factor for ALS and support the hypothesis that expanded ATXN2 repeats may predispose to other neurodegenerative diseases, including progressive supranuclear palsy.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddr227
PMCID: PMC3140823  PMID: 21610160
11.  Mutations in the colony stimulating factor 1 receptor (CSF1R) cause hereditary diffuse leukoencephalopathy with spheroids 
Nature Genetics  2011;44(2):200-205.
Hereditary diffuse leukoencephalopathy with spheroids (HDLS) is an autosomal dominantly inherited central nervous system white matter disease with variable clinical presentations including personality and behavioral changes, dementia, depression, parkinsonism, seizures, and others1,2. We combined genome-wide linkage analysis with exome sequencing and identified 14 different mutations affecting the tyrosine kinase domain of the colony stimulating factor receptor 1 (encoded by CSF1R) in 14 families affected by HDLS. In one kindred, the de novo occurrence of the mutation was confirmed. Follow-up sequencing analyses identified an additional CSF1R mutation in a patient clinically diagnosed with corticobasal syndrome (CBS). In vitro, CSF-1 stimulation resulted in the rapid autophosphorylation of selected tyrosine-residues in the kinase domain of wild-type but not mutant CSF1R, suggesting that HDLS may result from a partial loss of CSF1R function. Since CSF1R is a critical mediator of microglial proliferation and differentiation in the brain, our findings suggest an important role for microglial dysfunction in HDLS pathogenesis.
doi:10.1038/ng.1027
PMCID: PMC3267847  PMID: 22197934

Results 1-11 (11)