The identification of a hexanucleotide repeat expansion in the C9ORF72 gene as the cause of chromosome 9-linked frontotemporal dementia and motor neuron disease offers the opportunity for greater understanding of the relationship between these disorders and other clinical forms of frontotemporal lobar degeneration. In this study, we screened a cohort of 398 patients with frontotemporal dementia, progressive non-fluent aphasia, semantic dementia or mixture of these syndromes for mutations in the C9ORF72 gene. Motor neuron disease was present in 55 patients (14%). We identified 32 patients with C9ORF72 mutations, representing 8% of the cohort. The patients’ clinical phenotype at presentation varied: nine patients had frontotemporal dementia with motor neuron disease, 19 had frontotemporal dementia alone, one had mixed semantic dementia with frontal features and three had progressive non-fluent aphasia. There was, as expected, a significant association between C9ORF72 mutations and presence of motor neuron disease. Nevertheless, 46 patients, including 22 familial, had motor neuron disease but no mutation in C9ORF72. Thirty-eight per cent of the patients with C9ORF72 mutations presented with psychosis, with a further 28% exhibiting paranoid, deluded or irrational thinking, whereas <4% of non-mutation bearers presented similarly. The presence of psychosis dramatically increased the odds that patients carried the mutation. Mutation bearers showed a low incidence of motor stereotypies, and relatively high incidence of complex repetitive behaviours, largely linked to patients’ delusions. They also showed a lower incidence of acquired sweet food preference than patients without C9ORF72 mutations. Post-mortem pathology in five patients revealed transactive response DNA-binding protein 43 pathology, type A in one patient and type B in three. However, one patient had corticobasal degeneration pathology. The findings indicate that C9ORF72 mutations cause some but not all cases of frontotemporal dementia with motor neuron disease. Other mutations remain to be discovered. C9ORF72 mutations are associated with variable clinical presentations and pathology. Nevertheless, the findings highlight a powerful association between C9ORF72 mutations and psychosis and suggest that the behavioural characteristics of patients with C9ORF72 mutations are qualitatively distinct. Mutations in the C9ORF72 gene may be a major cause not only of frontotemporal dementia with motor neuron disease but also of late onset psychosis.
frontotemporal lobar degeneration; clinical characteristics; motor neuron disease; psychosis; neuropathology
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
CLU, PICALM and CR1 were identified as genetic risk factors for late onset Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in two large genome wide association studies (GWAS) published in 2009, but the variants that convey this alteration in disease risk, and how the genes relate to AD pathology is yet to be discovered. A next generation sequencing (NGS) project was conducted targeting CLU, CR1 and PICALM, in 96 AD samples (8 pools of 12), in an attempt to discover rare variants within these AD associated genes. Inclusion of repetitive regions in the design of the SureSelect capture lead to significant issues in alignment of the data, leading to poor specificity and a lower than expected depth of coverage. A strong positive correlation (0.964, p<0.001) was seen between NGS and 1000 genome project frequency estimates. Of the ~170 “novel” variants detected in the genes, seven SNPs, all of which were present in multiple sample pools, were selected for validation by Sanger sequencing. Two SNPs were successfully validated by this method, and shown to be genuine variants, while five failed validation. These spurious SNP calls occurred as a result of the presence of small indels and mononucleotide repeats, indicating such features should be regarded with caution, and validation via an independent method is important for NGS variant calls.
Next generation sequencing; Alzheimer’s disease; genes; CLU; PICALM; CR1
To assess the relative frequency of unique mutations and their associated characteristics in 97 individuals with mutations in progranulin (GRN), an important cause of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD).
Participants and Design
A 46-site International Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration Collaboration was formed to collect cases of FTLD with TAR DNA-binding protein of 43-kDa (TDP-43)–positive inclusions (FTLD-TDP). We identified 97 individuals with FTLD-TDP with pathogenic GRN mutations (GRN+ FTLD-TDP), assessed their genetic and clinical characteristics, and compared them with 453 patients with FTLD-TDP in which GRN mutations were excluded (GRN− FTLD-TDP). No patients were known to be related. Neuropathologic characteristics were confirmed as FTLD-TDP in 79 of the 97 GRN+ FTLDTDP cases and all of the GRN− FTLD-TDP cases.
Age at onset of FTLD was younger in patients with GRN+ FTLD-TDP vs GRN− FTLD-TDP (median, 58.0 vs 61.0 years; P<.001), as was age at death (median, 65.5 vs 69.0 years; P<.001). Concomitant motor neuron disease was much less common in GRN+ FTLDTDP vs GRN− FTLD-TDP (5.4% vs 26.3%; P<.001). Fifty different GRN mutations were observed, including 2 novel mutations: c.139delG (p.D47TfsX7) and c.378C>A (p.C126X). The 2 most common GRN mutations were c.1477C>T (p.R493X, found in 18 patients, representing 18.6% of GRN cases) and c.26C>A (p.A9D, found in 6 patients, representing 6.2% of cases). Patients with the c.1477C>T mutation shared a haplotype on chromosome 17; clinically, they resembled patients with other GRN mutations. Patients with the c.26C>A mutation appeared to have a younger age at onset of FTLD and at death and more parkinsonian features than those with other GRN mutations.
GRN+ FTLD-TDP differs in key features from GRN− FTLD-TDP.
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
Mutations in progranulin (PGRN) are associated with frontotemporal dementia with or without parkinsonism. We describe the prominent phenotypic variability within and among eight kindreds evaluated at Mayo Clinic Rochester and/or Mayo Clinic Jacksonville in whom mutations in PGRN were found. All available clinical, genetic, neuroimaging and neuropathologic data was reviewed. Age of onset ranged from 49 to 88 years and disease duration ranged from 1 to 14 years. Clinical diagnoses included frontotemporal dementia (FTD), primary progressive aphasia, FTD with parkinsonism, parkinsonism, corticobasal syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, amnestic mild cognitive impairment, and others. One kindred exhibited maximal right cerebral hemispheric atrophy in all four affected individuals, while another had maximal left hemisphere involvement in all three of the affected. Neuropathologic examination of 13 subjects revealed frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitin-positive inclusions plus neuronal intranuclear inclusions in all cases. Age of onset, clinical phenotypes and MRI findings associated with most PGRN mutations varied significantly both within and among kindreds. Some kindreds with PGRN mutations exhibited lateralized topography of degeneration across all affected individuals.
Frontotemporal dementia; FTDP-17; Progranulin; PGRN; MRI
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) is the second most common cause of presenile dementia. The predominant neuropathology is FTLD with TAR DNA binding protein (TDP-43) inclusions (FTLD-TDP)1. FTLD-TDP is frequently familial resulting from progranulin (GRN) mutations. We assembled an international collaboration to identify susceptibility loci for FTLD-TDP, using genome-wide association (GWA). We found that FTLD-TDP associates with multiple SNPs mapping to a single linkage disequilibrium (LD) block on 7p21 that contains TMEM106B in a GWA study (GWAS) on 515 FTLD-TDP cases. Three SNPs retained genome-wide significance following Bonferroni correction; top SNP rs1990622 (P=1.08×10−11; odds ratio (OR) minor allele (C) 0.61, 95% CI 0.53-0.71). The association replicated in 89 FTLD-TDP cases (rs1990622; P=2×10−4). TMEM106B variants may confer risk by increasing TMEM106B expression. TMEM106B variants also contribute to genetic risk for FTLD-TDP in patients with GRN mutations. Our data implicate TMEM106B as a strong risk factor for FTLD-TDP suggesting an underlying pathogenic mechanism.
TDP-43 is characteristically accumulated in TDP-43 proteinopathies such as frontotemporal lobar degeneration and motor neurone disease, but is also present in some tauopathies, including Alzheimer’s disease, argyrophilic grain disease, and corticobasal degeneration (CBD). However, several studies have suggested that cases of progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) lack TDP-43 pathology. We have therefore examined limbic regions of the brain in 19 PSP cases, as well as in 12 CBD cases, using phosphorylation-dependent anti-TDP-43 antibodies. We observed TDP-43-positive inclusions in five PSP cases (26%), as well as in two CBD cases (17%). The amygdala and hippocampal dentate gyrus were most frequently affected in PSP. Regional tau burden tended to be higher in TDP-43-positive PSP cases, and a significant correlation between tau and TDP-43 burden was noted in the occipitotemporal gyrus. Hippocampal sclerosis (HS) was found in 3/5 TDP-43-positive PSP cases, but HS was significantly more frequent in TDP-43-positive than TDP-43 negative PSP cases. Dementia was present in 13/19 (58%) of the PSP cases, in 4/5 TDP-43-positive cases, in all 3 TDP-43-positive cases with HS, in 1/2 TDP-43-positive cases without HS, and 7/14 cases lacking both. TDP-43 and tau were frequently colocalized in the amygdala, but not in the hippocampal dentate gyrus. Immunoblotting demonstrated the characteristic (for TDP-43 proteinopathies) 45 and 25 kDa bands and high molecular weight smear in the TDP-43-positive PSP case. These findings suggest that (1) although PSP is nominally a tauopathy, pathological TDP-43 can accumulate in the limbic system in some cases, and (2) TDP-43 pathology may be concurrent with HS.
Argyrophilic grains; Hippocampal sclerosis; Progressive supranuclear palsy; Tau; TDP-43
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) is now recognised as a common form of early onset dementia. Up to 40% of patients have a family history of disease demonstrating a large genetic component to its etiology. Linkage to chromosome 9p21 has recently been reported in families with this disorder. We undertook a large scale two-stage linkage disequilibrium mapping approach of this region in the Manchester FTLD cohort. We identified association of ubiquitin-associated-protein-1 (UBAP1; OR 1.42 95% CI 1.08–1.88, P=0.013) with FTLD in this cohort and we replicated this finding in an additional two independent cohorts from the Netherlands (OR 1.33 95% CI 1.04–1.69, P=0.022), the USA (OR 1.4 95% CI 1.02–1.92, P=0.032) and a forth Spainish cohort approached significant association (OR 1.45 95% CI 0.97–2.17, p=0.064). However, we failed to replicate in a fifth cohort from London (OR 0.99 95% CI 0.72–1.37, p=0.989). Quantitative analysis of UBAP1 mRNA extracted from tissue from the Manchester cases demonstrated a significant reduction of expression from the disease-associated haplotype. In addition, we identified a case of familial FTLD that demonstrated colocalisation of UBAP1 and TDP-43 in the neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions in the brain of this individual. Our data for the first time identifies UBAP1 as a genetic risk factor for FTLD and suggests a mechanistic relationship between this protein and TDP-43.
We have investigated the extent and pattern of immunostaining for ubiquitin protein (UBQ) in 60 patients with frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) with ubiquitin-positive, tau-negative inclusions (FTLD-U), 37 of whom were ascertained in Manchester UK and 23 in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, UK. There were three distinct histological patterns according to the form and distribution of the UBQ pathology. Histological type 1 was present in 19 patients (32%) and characterised by the presence of a moderate number, or numerous, UBQ immunoreactive neurites and intraneuronal cytoplasmic inclusions within layer II of the frontal and temporal cerebral cortex, and cytoplasmic inclusions within granule cells of the dentate gyrus; neuronal intranuclear inclusions (NII) of a “cat’s eye” or “lentiform” appearance were present in 17 of these patients. In histological type 2 (16 patients, 27%), UBQ neurites were predominantly, or exclusively, present with few intraneuronal cytoplasmic inclusions within layer II of the cerebral cortex, while in histological type 3 (25 patients, 42%), UBQ intraneuronal cytoplasmic inclusions either within the cortical layer II or in the granule cells of the dentate gyrus, with few or no UBQ neurites, were seen. In neither of these latter two groups were NII present. The influence of histological type on clinical phenotype was highly significant with type 1 histology being associated clinically with cases of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) or progressive non-fluent aphasia (PNFA), type 2 histology with semantic dementia (SD), and type 3 histology with FTD, or FTD and motor neurone disease (MND).
To describe the clinical, neuropsychological and radiological features of a family with a C31LfsX35 mutation in the progranulin gene (PGRN).
A large British kindred (DRC255) with a PGRN mutation was assessed. Affected individuals presented with a mean age of 57.8 (54 to 67) and mean duration of disease of 6.1 years (2 to 11).
All cases exhibited a clinical and radiological phenotype compatible with FTLD based on current consensus criteria. However, unlike sporadic FTLD, parietal deficits consisting of limb apraxia, dyscalculia, visuoperceptual and/or visuospatial impairment were a common feature, and brain imaging showed posterior extension of frontotemporal atrophy to involve the parietal lobes. Other common clinical features included language output impairment with either dynamic aphasia or non-fluent aphasia, and a behavioural syndrome dominated by apathy.
We propose that parietal features may be a prominent feature of PGRN mutations and that this may be due to disruption of fronto-parietal functional pathways.
Autopsy studies have shown that about 55% of patients with frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) and 25% of patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) harbour TDP-43 immunoreactive pathological changes in their brains. Using ELISA, we investigated whether we could detect the presence, or increased amounts, of TDP-43 in plasma of patients with FTLD and AD compared to normal control subjects. We detected elevated levels of TDP-43 protein in plasma of 46% patients with FTLD with clinical frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and 22% patients with AD, compared to 8% of control subjects. The proportions of patients with FTD and AD showing raised plasma TDP-43 levels correspond closely to those proportions known from autopsy studies to contain TDP-43 pathological changes in their brains. Raised TDP-43 plasma levels may thereby index TDP-43 pathology within the brain. Plasma TDP-43 levels may be a biomarker that can provide a laboratory test capable of identifying the presence of TDP-43 brain pathology in neurodegenerative disease during life. It may help to distinguish those cases of FTLD with ubiquitin/TDP-43 pathology in their brains from those with tauopathy. As a predictive test, plasma TDP-43 level may have great practical value in directing therapeutic strategies aimed at preventing or removing tau or TDP-43 pathological changes from the brain in FTLD and AD.
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; Alzheimer’s disease; TDP-43; Plasma; Biomarker
A new locus for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – frontotemporal dementia (ALS-FTD) has recently been ascribed to chromosome 9p.
We identified chromosome 9p segregating haplotypes within two families with ALS-FTD (F476 and F2) and undertook mutational screening of candidate genes within this locus.
Candidate gene sequencing at this locus revealed the presence of a disease segregating stop mutation (Q342X) in the intraflagellar transport 74 (IFT74) gene in family 476 (F476), but no mutation was detected within IFT74 in family 2 (F2). While neither family was sufficiently informative to definitively implicate or exclude IFT74 mutations as a cause of chromosome 9-linked ALS-FTD, the nature of the mutation observed within F476 (predicted to truncate the protein by 258 amino acids) led us to sequence the open reading frame of this gene in a large number of ALS and FTD cases (n = 420). An additional sequence variant (G58D) was found in a case of sporadic semantic dementia. I55L sequence variants were found in three other unrelated affected individuals, but this was also found in a single individual among 800 Human Diversity Gene Panel samples.
Confirmation of the pathogenicity of IFT74 sequence variants will require screening of other chromosome 9p-linked families.
Frontotemporal dementia and parkinsonism linked to chromosome 17 (FTDP-17) is an autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disorder, which has three cardinal features: behavioral and personality changes, cognitive impairment, and motor symptoms. FTDP-17 was defined during the International Consensus Conference in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 1996. The prevalence and incidence remain unknown but FTDP-17 is an extremely rare condition. It is caused by mutations in the tau gene, which encodes a microtubule-binding protein. Over 100 families with 38 different mutations in the tau gene have been identified worldwide. The phenotype of FTDP-17 varies not only between families carrying different mutations but also between and within families carrying the same mutations. The pathogenetic mechanisms underlying the disorder are thought to be related to the altered proportion of tau isoforms or to the ability of tau to bind microtubules and to promote microtubule assembly. Definitive diagnosis of FTDP-17 requires a combination of characteristic clinical and pathological features and molecular genetic analysis. Genetic counseling should be offered to affected and at-risk individuals; for most subtypes, penetrance is incomplete. Currently, treatment for FTDP-17 is only symptomatic and supportive. The prognosis and rate of the disease's progression vary considerably among individual patients and genetic kindreds, ranging from life expectancies of several months to several years, and, in exceptional cases, as long as two decades.