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1.  Expanding the genetics of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal dementia 
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease characterized clinically by rapidly progressive paralysis leading ultimately to death from respiratory failure. It is now recognized that ALS and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) form a clinical spectrum of disease with overlapping clinical, pathological and genetic features. This past year, the genetic causes of ALS have expanded to include mutations in the genes OPTN, VCP, and UBQLN2, and the hexanucleotide repeat expansion in C9ORF72. The C9ORF72 repeat expansion solidifies the notion that ALS and FTLD are phenotypic variations of a disease spectrum with a common molecular etiology. Furthermore, the C9ORF72 expansion is the genetic cause of a substantial portion of apparently sporadic ALS and FTLD cases, showing that genetics plays a clear role in sporadic disease. Here we describe the progress made in the genetics of ALS and FTLD, including a detailed look at how new insights brought about by C9ORF72 have both broadened and unified current concepts in neurodegeneration.
doi:10.1186/alzrt133
PMCID: PMC3506944  PMID: 22835154
2.  Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis–Frontotemporal Lobar Dementia in 3 Families With p.Ala382Thr TARDBP Mutations 
Archives of neurology  2010;67(8):1002-1009.
Background
TAR DNA-binding protein 43, encoded by the TARDBP gene, has been identified as the major pathological protein of frontotemporal lobar dementia (FTLD) with or without amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and sporadic ALS. Subsequently, mutations in the TARDBP gene have been detected in 2% to 3% of patients with ALS (both familial and sporadic ALS). However, to our knowledge, there is only 1 description of 2 patients with FTLD and TARDBP gene mutations who later developed motor neuron disease.
Objective
To describe cognitive abnormalities in 3 Italian families with familial ALS and TARDBP gene mutations.
Design, Setting, and Participants
Genetic, neuropsychological, and neuroimaging analyses in 36 patients with familial non–superoxide dismutase 1 gene (SOD1) ALS and 280 healthy controls.
Main Outcome Measure
We identified 3 index cases of familial ALS carrying the p.Ala382Thr missense mutation of the TARDBP gene and with clinical, neuroimaging, and neuropsychological features of FTLD.
Results
The p.Ala382Thr missense mutation of the TARDBP gene was absent in the 280 controls. It was present in all affected members of the 3 families for whom DNA was available. All affected members of the 3 families developed FTLD after the onset of ALS, confirmed by neuropsychological testing and hypometabolism in frontal associative areas assessed with fludeoxyglucose F 18 positron emission tomography and computed tomography.
Conclusions
Three apparently unrelated families with familial ALS carrying the p.Ala382Thr TARDBP missense mutation developed FTLD. In these families, FTLD co-segregates with ALS. Patients with ALS carrying TARDBP mutations may develop FTLD.
doi:10.1001/archneurol.2010.173
PMCID: PMC3535689  PMID: 20697052
3.  The chromosome 9 ALS and FTD locus is probably derived from a single founder 
Neurobiology of Aging  2011;33(1):209.e3-209.e8.
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.
doi:10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2011.08.005
PMCID: PMC3312749  PMID: 21925771
Genetics; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; frontotemporal dementia; Finland
4.  No major progranulin genetic variability contribution to disease etiopathogenesis in an ALS Italian cohort 
Neurobiology of aging  2009;32(6):1157-1158.
To analyze the contribution of progranulin (PGRN) to the etiopathogenesis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), we performed a PGRN gene screening in 146 Italian patients (12 familial cases) and evaluated the association of two common variants with risk of developing ALS in 239 sporadic cases (SALS). Progranulin mRNA and protein levels were measured in peripheral blood mononuclear cells and serum of a subset of these patients and controls. PGRN sequence analysis revealed a heterozygous change (p.S120Y), previously observed in an independent sporadic ALS-FTD patient. Haplotype analysis showed a conserved PGRN region among these two subjects consistent with possible common ancestor allele. Two non-coding polymorphisms were not associated to increased risk to develop ALS; mRNA and serum levels were not significantly different between cases and controls. Overall, our data argue against the hypothesis of progranulin as a major risk factor for motor neuron dysfunction, at least in Italian population. The p.S120Y variant may characterize rare patients with SALS, although its pathogenetic mechanism remains to be elucidated.
doi:10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2009.06.006
PMCID: PMC3511779  PMID: 19632744
5.  A hexanucleotide repeat expansion in C9ORF72 is the cause of chromosome 9p21-linked ALS-FTD 
Renton, Alan E. | Majounie, Elisa | Waite, Adrian | Simón-Sánchez, Javier | Rollinson, Sara | Gibbs, J. Raphael | Schymick, Jennifer C. | Laaksovirta, Hannu | van Swieten, John C. | Myllykangas, Liisa | Kalimo, Hannu | Paetau, Anders | Abramzon, Yevgeniya | Remes, Anne M. | Kaganovich, Alice | Scholz, Sonja W. | Duckworth, Jamie | Ding, Jinhui | Harmer, Daniel W. | Hernandez, Dena G. | Johnson, Janel O. | Mok, Kin | Ryten, Mina | Trabzuni, Danyah | Guerreiro, Rita J. | Orrell, Richard W. | Neal, James | Murray, Alex | Pearson, Justin | Jansen, Iris E. | Sondervan, David | Seelaar, Harro | Blake, Derek | Young, Kate | Halliwell, Nicola | Callister, Janis | Toulson, Greg | Richardson, Anna | Gerhard, Alex | Snowden, Julie | Mann, David | Neary, David | Nalls, Michael A. | Peuralinna, Terhi | Jansson, Lilja | Isoviita, Veli-Matti | Kaivorinne, Anna-Lotta | Hölttä-Vuori, Maarit | Ikonen, Elina | Sulkava, Raimo | Benatar, Michael | Wuu, Joanne | Chiò, Adriano | Restagno, Gabriella | Borghero, Giuseppe | Sabatelli, Mario | Heckerman, David | Rogaeva, Ekaterina | Zinman, Lorne | Rothstein, Jeffrey | Sendtner, Michael | Drepper, Carsten | Eichler, Evan E. | Alkan, Can | Abdullaev, Zied | Pack, Svetlana D. | Dutra, Amalia | Pak, Evgenia | Hardy, John | Singleton, Andrew | Williams, Nigel M. | Heutink, Peter | Pickering-Brown, Stuart | Morris, Huw R. | Tienari, Pentti J. | Traynor, Bryan J.
Neuron  2011;72(2):257-268.
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.
doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2011.09.010
PMCID: PMC3200438  PMID: 21944779
6.  FUS mutations in sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis 
Neurobiology of aging  2010;32(3):550.e1-550.e4.
Mutations in the FUS gene have recently been described as a cause of familial ALS, but their role in the pathogenesis of sporadic ALS is unclear. We undertook mutational screening of all coding exons of FUS in 228 sporadic ALS cases, and, as previous reports suggest that exon 15 represents a mutational hotspot, we sequenced this exon in an additional 1,295 sporadic cases. Six variants in six different cases were found, indicating that FUS mutations can underlie apparently sporadic ALS, but account for less than 1% of this form of disease.
doi:10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2009.12.020
PMCID: PMC2891336  PMID: 20138404
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; sporadic disease; FUS; Italy; United States of America
7.  The chromosome 9 ALS and FTD locus is probably derived from a single founder 
Neurobiology of Aging  2012;33(1):209.e3-209.e8.
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.
doi:10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2011.08.005
PMCID: PMC3312749  PMID: 21925771
Genetics; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Frontotemporal dementia; Finland
8.  Exome sequencing reveals VCP mutations as a cause of familial ALS 
Neuron  2010;68(5):857-864.
Summary
Using exome sequencing, we identified a p.R191Q amino acid change in the valosin-containing protein (VCP) gene in an Italian family with autosomal dominantly inherited amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Mutations in VCP have previously been identified in families with Inclusion Body Myopathy, Paget’s disease and Frontotemporal Dementia (IBMPFD). Screening of VCP in a cohort of 210 familial ALS cases and 78 autopsy-proven ALS cases identified four additional mutations including a p.R155H mutation in a pathologically-proven case of ALS. VCP protein is essential for maturation of ubiquitin-containing autophagosomes, and mutant VCP toxicity is partially mediated through its effect on TDP-43 protein, a major constituent of ubiquitin inclusions that neuropathologically characterize ALS. Our data broaden the phenotype of IBMPFD to include motor neuron degeneration, suggest that VCP mutations may account for ~1–2% of familial ALS, and represent the first evidence directly implicating defects in the ubiquitination/protein degradation pathway in motor neuron degeneration.
doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2010.11.036
PMCID: PMC3032425  PMID: 21145000
9.  Chromosome 9p21 in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in Finland: A Genome-Wide Association Study 
Lancet neurology  2010;9(10):978-985.
Introduction
The genetic etiology of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is not well understood. Finland is a well-suited location for a genome-wide association study of ALS, as the incidence of the disease is one of the highest in the world, and because the genetic homogeneity of the Finnish population enhances the ability to detect risk loci.
Methods
We performed a genome-wide association study of 442 Finnish patients diagnosed with ALS, and 521 Finnish control subjects using Illumina genome-wide genotyping arrays. DNA was collected from patients attending an ALS specialty clinic that receives referrals from neurologists throughout Finland, whereas the control samples were obtained from a population-based study of elderly Finnish individuals. Individuals known to carry D90A alleles of the SOD1 gene (n = 40) were included in the final analysis as positive controls to determine if our GWAS was able to detect an association signal at this locus.
Findings
We identified two association peaks that exceeded genome-wide significance. One of these was located on chromosome 21q22 (rs13048019, p = 2·58×10−8) that corresponded to the known autosomal recessive D90A allele of the SOD1 gene. The other was detected in a 232kb block of linkage disequilibrium (rs3849942, p = 9·11×10−11) in a region of chromosome 9p that has been previously identified by linkage studies of ALS families. Within this region, we defined a 42-SNP haplotype that significantly increased risk of developing ALS (p = 4·2×10−33 among familial cases, odds ratio = 21·0, 95% CI = 11·2–39·1), and which overlapped with an association locus recently reported for fronto-temporal dementia (FTD). Based on the 93 familial ALS cases included in the analysis, population attributable risk percent for the chromosome 9p21 locus was 37.9% (95% CI, 27·7 – 48·1%), and for D90A homozygosity was 25·5% (95% CI, 16·9 – 34·1%).
Interpretation
In summary, we present evidence that the chromosome 9p21 ALS-FTD locus is a major cause of familial ALS in the Finnish population.
doi:10.1016/S1474-4422(10)70184-8
PMCID: PMC2965392  PMID: 20801718
10.  Two Italian kindreds with familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis due to FUS mutation 
Neurobiology of aging  2009;30(8):1272-1275.
Recently, fused in sarcoma/translated in liposarcoma (FUS/TLS) gene, located on chromosome 16p11.2, has been identified as a disease gene in familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (FALS). We have analyzed FUS/TLS in a cohort of 52 index cases from seven Italian regions with non-SOD1 and non-TARDBP FALS. We identified a heterozygous c.G1542C missense mutation in a family of northern Italian origin, and a heterozygous c.C1574T missense mutation in a family of Sicilian origin. Both variants are located in exon 15 encoding the RNA-recognition motif, and result in a substitution of an arginine with a serine in position 514 (p.R514S) and substitution of a proline with a leucine at position 525 (p.P525L) respectively. Overall, the two mutations accounted for 3.8% of 52 non-SOD1 and non-TDP43 index cases of FALS. The clinical phenotype was similar within each of the families, with a predominantly upper limb onset in the family carrying the p.R514S mutation and bulbar onset, with very young age and a rapid course in the family carrying the p.P525L mutation.
doi:10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2009.05.001
PMCID: PMC2771748  PMID: 19450904
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; genetics; FUS gene; family pedigrees
11.  A two-stage genome-wide association study of sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis 
Human Molecular Genetics  2009;18(8):1524-1532.
The cause of sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is largely unknown, but genetic factors are thought to play a significant role in determining susceptibility to motor neuron degeneration. To identify genetic variants altering risk of ALS, we undertook a two-stage genome-wide association study (GWAS): we followed our initial GWAS of 545 066 SNPs in 553 individuals with ALS and 2338 controls by testing the 7600 most associated SNPs from the first stage in three independent cohorts consisting of 2160 cases and 3008 controls. None of the SNPs selected for replication exceeded the Bonferroni threshold for significance. The two most significantly associated SNPs, rs2708909 and rs2708851 [odds ratio (OR) = 1.17 and 1.18, and P-values = 6.98 × 10−7 and 1.16 × 10−6], were located on chromosome 7p13.3 within a 175 kb linkage disequilibrium block containing the SUNC1, HUS1 and C7orf57 genes. These associations did not achieve genome-wide significance in the original cohort and failed to replicate in an additional independent cohort of 989 US cases and 327 controls (OR = 1.18 and 1.19, P-values = 0.08 and 0.06, respectively). Thus, we chose to cautiously interpret our data as hypothesis-generating requiring additional confirmation, especially as all previously reported loci for ALS have failed to replicate successfully. Indeed, the three loci (FGGY, ITPR2 and DPP6) identified in previous GWAS of sporadic ALS were not significantly associated with disease in our study. Our findings suggest that ALS is more genetically and clinically heterogeneous than previously recognized. Genotype data from our study have been made available online to facilitate such future endeavors.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddp059
PMCID: PMC2664150  PMID: 19193627
12.  Genome-wide association reveals three SNPs associated with sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis through a two-locus analysis 
BMC Medical Genetics  2009;10:86.
Background
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal, degenerative neuromuscular disease characterized by a progressive loss of voluntary motor activity. About 95% of ALS patients are in "sporadic form"-meaning their disease is not associated with a family history of the disease. To date, the genetic factors of the sporadic form of ALS are poorly understood.
Methods
We proposed a two-stage approach based on seventeen biological plausible models to search for two-locus combinations that have significant joint effects to the disease in a genome-wide association study (GWAS). We used a two-stage strategy to reduce the computational burden associated with performing an exhaustive two-locus search across the genome. In the first stage, all SNPs were screened using a single-marker test. In the second stage, all pairs made from the 1000 SNPs with the lowest p-values from the first stage were evaluated under each of the 17 two-locus models.
Results
we performed the two-stage approach on a GWAS data set of sporadic ALS from the SNP Database at the NINDS Human Genetics Resource Center DNA and Cell Line Repository http://ccr.coriell.org/ninds/. Our two-locus analysis showed that two two-locus combinations--rs4363506 (SNP1) and rs3733242 (SNP2), and rs4363506 and rs16984239 (SNP3) -- were significantly associated with sporadic ALS. After adjusting for multiple tests and multiple models, the combination of SNP1 and SNP2 had a p-value of 0.032 under the Dom∩Dom epistatic model; SNP1 and SNP3 had a p-value of 0.042 under the Dom × Dom multiplicative model.
Conclusion
The proposed two-stage analytical method can be used to search for joint effects of genes in GWAS. The two-stage strategy decreased the computational time and the multiple testing burdens associated with GWAS. We have also observed that the loci identified by our two-stage strategy can not be detected by single-locus tests.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-10-86
PMCID: PMC2752455  PMID: 19740415
13.  TDP-43 Is Not a Common Cause of Sporadic Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(6):e2450.
Background
TAR DNA binding protein, encoded by TARDBP, was shown to be a central component of ubiquitin-positive, tau-negative inclusions in frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD-U) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Recently, mutations in TARDBP have been linked to familial and sporadic ALS.
Methodology/Principal Findings
To further examine the frequency of mutations in TARDBP in sporadic ALS, 279 ALS cases and 806 neurologically normal control individuals of European descent were screened for sequence variants, copy number variants, genetic and haplotype association with disease. An additional 173 African samples from the Human Gene Diversity Panel were sequenced as this population had the highest likelihood of finding changes. No mutations were found in the ALS cases. Several genetic variants were identified in controls, which were considered as non-pathogenic changes. Furthermore, pathogenic structural variants were not observed in the cases and there was no genetic or haplotype association with disease status across the TARDBP locus.
Conclusions
Our data indicate that genetic variation in TARDBP is not a common cause of sporadic ALS in North American.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0002450
PMCID: PMC2408729  PMID: 18545701
14.  Analysis of IFT74 as a candidate gene for chromosome 9p-linked ALS-FTD 
BMC Neurology  2006;6:44.
Background
A new locus for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – frontotemporal dementia (ALS-FTD) has recently been ascribed to chromosome 9p.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
Confirmation of the pathogenicity of IFT74 sequence variants will require screening of other chromosome 9p-linked families.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-6-44
PMCID: PMC1764752  PMID: 17166276

Results 1-14 (14)