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1.  Age-at-Onset in Late Onset Alzheimer Disease is Modified by Multiple Genetic Loci 
JAMA neurology  2014;71(11):1394-1404.
As APOE locus variants contribute to both risk of late-onset Alzheimer disease and differences in age-at-onset, it is important to know if other established late-onset Alzheimer disease risk loci also affect age-at-onset in cases.
To investigate the effects of known Alzheimer disease risk loci in modifying age-at-onset, and to estimate their cumulative effect on age-at-onset variation, using data from genome-wide association studies in the Alzheimer’s Disease Genetics Consortium (ADGC).
Design, Setting and Participants
The ADGC comprises 14 case-control, prospective, and family-based datasets with data on 9,162 Caucasian participants with Alzheimer’s occurring after age 60 who also had complete age-at-onset information, gathered between 1989 and 2011 at multiple sites by participating studies. Data on genotyped or imputed single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) most significantly associated with risk at ten confirmed LOAD loci were examined in linear modeling of AAO, and individual dataset results were combined using a random effects, inverse variance-weighted meta-analysis approach to determine if they contribute to variation in age-at-onset. Aggregate effects of all risk loci on AAO were examined in a burden analysis using genotype scores weighted by risk effect sizes.
Main Outcomes and Measures
Age at disease onset abstracted from medical records among participants with late-onset Alzheimer disease diagnosed per standard criteria.
Analysis confirmed association of APOE with age-at-onset (rs6857, P=3.30×10−96), with associations in CR1 (rs6701713, P=7.17×10−4), BIN1 (rs7561528, P=4.78×10−4), and PICALM (rs561655, P=2.23×10−3) reaching statistical significance (P<0.005). Risk alleles individually reduced age-at-onset by 3-6 months. Burden analyses demonstrated that APOE contributes to 3.9% of variation in age-at-onset (R2=0.220) over baseline (R2=0.189) whereas the other nine loci together contribute to 1.1% of variation (R2=0.198).
Conclusions and Relevance
We confirmed association of APOE variants with age-at-onset among late-onset Alzheimer disease cases and observed novel associations with age-at-onset in CR1, BIN1, and PICALM. In contrast to earlier hypothetical modeling, we show that the combined effects of Alzheimer disease risk variants on age-at-onset are on the scale of, but do not exceed, the APOE effect. While the aggregate effects of risk loci on age-at-onset may be significant, additional genetic contributions to age-at-onset are individually likely to be small.
PMCID: PMC4314944  PMID: 25199842
Alzheimer Disease; Alzheimer Disease Genetics; Alzheimer’s Disease - Pathophysiology; Genetics of Alzheimer Disease; Aging
2.  Structural biology of presenilin 1 complexes 
The presenilin genes were first identified as the site of missense mutations causing early onset autosomal dominant familial Alzheimer's disease. Subsequent work has shown that the presenilin proteins are the catalytic subunits of a hetero-tetrameric complex containing APH1, nicastrin and PEN-2. This complex (variously termed presenilin complex or gamma-secretase complex) performs an unusual type of proteolysis in which the transmembrane domains of Type I proteins are cleaved within the hydrophobic compartment of the membrane. This review describes some of the molecular and structural biology of this unusual enzyme complex. The presenilin complex is a bilobed structure. The head domain contains the ectodomain of nicastrin. The base domain contains a central cavity with a lateral cleft that likely provides the route for access of the substrate to the catalytic cavity within the centre of the base domain. There are reciprocal allosteric interactions between various sites in the complex that affect its function. For instance, binding of Compound E, a peptidomimetic inhibitor to the PS1 N-terminus, induces significant conformational changes that reduces substrate binding at the initial substrate docking site, and thus inhibits substrate cleavage. However, there is a reciprocal allosteric interaction between these sites such that prior binding of the substrate to the initial docking site paradoxically increases the binding of the Compound E peptidomimetic inhibitor. Such reciprocal interactions are likely to form the basis of a gating mechanism that underlies access of substrate to the catalytic site. An increasingly detailed understanding of the structural biology of the presenilin complex is an essential step towards rational design of substrate- and/or cleavage site-specific modulators of presenilin complex function.
PMCID: PMC4326451  PMID: 25523933
Presenilin; Nicastrin; APH1; PEN-2; Gamma-secretase; Epsilon secretase; Notch; APP; Abeta; Structural biology; Gamma-secretase inhibitor compounds; Gamma-secretase modulator compounds; Lateral gate
3.  Genetic analysis implicates APOE, SNCA and suggests lysosomal dysfunction in the etiology of dementia with Lewy bodies 
Human molecular genetics  2014;23(23):6139-6146.
Clinical and neuropathological similarities between dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases (PD and AD, respectively) suggest that these disorders may share etiology. To test this hypothesis, we have performed an association study of 54 genomic regions, previously implicated in PD or AD, in a large cohort of DLB cases and controls. The cohort comprised 788 DLB cases and 2624 controls. To minimize the issue of potential misdiagnosis, we have also performed the analysis including only neuropathologically proven DLB cases (667 cases). The results show that the APOE is a strong genetic risk factor for DLB, confirming previous findings, and that the SNCA and SCARB2 loci are also associated after a study-wise Bonferroni correction, although these have a different association profile than the associations reported for the same loci in PD. We have previously shown that the p.N370S variant in GBA is associated with DLB, which, together with the findings at the SCARB2 locus, suggests a role for lysosomal dysfunction in this disease. These results indicate that DLB has a unique genetic risk profile when compared with the two most common neurodegenerative diseases and that the lysosome may play an important role in the etiology of this disorder. We make all these data available.
PMCID: PMC4222357  PMID: 24973356
4.  Familial Dementia With Frontotemporal Features Associated With M146V Presenilin-1 Mutation 
Most of the mutations in the presenilin-1 gene (PS-1) are associated with familial Alzheimer’s disease (AD). However, certain examples can be associated with frontotemporal dementia (FTD). We performed a clinical evaluation of individuals belonging to a family with the FTD phenotype, and additional molecular studies and neuropathological assessment of the proband. The PS-1 M146V mutation was found in the 50-year-old subject (the proband) with family history of early-onset FTD. Neuropathological examination showed abundant amyloid plaques, widespread neurofibrillary pathology, Pick bodies in the hippocampus and cortex, cortical globose tangles and ubiquitin-positive nuclear inclusions in white matter oligodendrocytes. We report a kindred with clinical features of FTD, whose proband bore the PS-1 M146V mutation and showed diffuse Alzheimer’s type pathology and Pick bodies on post-mortem neuropathological examination. As with other mutations within the same codon, this substitution may predispose to both diseases by affecting APP and/or tau processing.
PMCID: PMC4007155  PMID: 23489366
Alzheimer’s disease; FTD; M146V; oligodendrocytes; Pick bodies; PS-1 mutations
5.  Genetic analysis implicates APOE, SNCA and suggests lysosomal dysfunction in the etiology of dementia with Lewy bodies 
Human Molecular Genetics  2014;23(23):6139-6146.
Clinical and neuropathological similarities between dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases (PD and AD, respectively) suggest that these disorders may share etiology. To test this hypothesis, we have performed an association study of 54 genomic regions, previously implicated in PD or AD, in a large cohort of DLB cases and controls. The cohort comprised 788 DLB cases and 2624 controls. To minimize the issue of potential misdiagnosis, we have also performed the analysis including only neuropathologically proven DLB cases (667 cases). The results show that the APOE is a strong genetic risk factor for DLB, confirming previous findings, and that the SNCA and SCARB2 loci are also associated after a study-wise Bonferroni correction, although these have a different association profile than the associations reported for the same loci in PD. We have previously shown that the p.N370S variant in GBA is associated with DLB, which, together with the findings at the SCARB2 locus, suggests a role for lysosomal dysfunction in this disease. These results indicate that DLB has a unique genetic risk profile when compared with the two most common neurodegenerative diseases and that the lysosome may play an important role in the etiology of this disorder. We make all these data available.
PMCID: PMC4222357  PMID: 24973356
6.  Meta-analysis of 74,046 individuals identifies 11 new susceptibility loci for Alzheimer’s disease 
Lambert, Jean-Charles | Ibrahim-Verbaas, Carla A | Harold, Denise | Naj, Adam C | Sims, Rebecca | Bellenguez, Céline | Jun, Gyungah | DeStefano, Anita L | Bis, Joshua C | Beecham, Gary W | Grenier-Boley, Benjamin | Russo, Giancarlo | Thornton-Wells, Tricia A | Jones, Nicola | Smith, Albert V | Chouraki, Vincent | Thomas, Charlene | Ikram, M Arfan | Zelenika, Diana | Vardarajan, Badri N | Kamatani, Yoichiro | Lin, Chiao-Feng | Gerrish, Amy | Schmidt, Helena | Kunkle, Brian | Dunstan, Melanie L | Ruiz, Agustin | Bihoreau, Marie-Thérèse | Choi, Seung-Hoan | Reitz, Christiane | Pasquier, Florence | Hollingworth, Paul | Ramirez, Alfredo | Hanon, Olivier | Fitzpatrick, Annette L | Buxbaum, Joseph D | Campion, Dominique | Crane, Paul K | Baldwin, Clinton | Becker, Tim | Gudnason, Vilmundur | Cruchaga, Carlos | Craig, David | Amin, Najaf | Berr, Claudine | Lopez, Oscar L | De Jager, Philip L | Deramecourt, Vincent | Johnston, Janet A | Evans, Denis | Lovestone, Simon | Letenneur, Luc | Morón, Francisco J | Rubinsztein, David C | Eiriksdottir, Gudny | Sleegers, Kristel | Goate, Alison M | Fiévet, Nathalie | Huentelman, Matthew J | Gill, Michael | Brown, Kristelle | Kamboh, M Ilyas | Keller, Lina | Barberger-Gateau, Pascale | McGuinness, Bernadette | Larson, Eric B | Green, Robert | Myers, Amanda J | Dufouil, Carole | Todd, Stephen | Wallon, David | Love, Seth | Rogaeva, Ekaterina | Gallacher, John | St George-Hyslop, Peter | Clarimon, Jordi | Lleo, Alberto | Bayer, Anthony | Tsuang, Debby W | Yu, Lei | Tsolaki, Magda | Bossù, Paola | Spalletta, Gianfranco | Proitsi, Petroula | Collinge, John | Sorbi, Sandro | Sanchez-Garcia, Florentino | Fox, Nick C | Hardy, John | Deniz Naranjo, Maria Candida | Bosco, Paolo | Clarke, Robert | Brayne, Carol | Galimberti, Daniela | Mancuso, Michelangelo | Matthews, Fiona | Moebus, Susanne | Mecocci, Patrizia | Zompo, Maria Del | Maier, Wolfgang | Hampel, Harald | Pilotto, Alberto | Bullido, Maria | Panza, Francesco | Caffarra, Paolo | Nacmias, Benedetta | Gilbert, John R | Mayhaus, Manuel | Lannfelt, Lars | Hakonarson, Hakon | Pichler, Sabrina | Carrasquillo, Minerva M | Ingelsson, Martin | Beekly, Duane | Alvarez, Victoria | Zou, Fanggeng | Valladares, Otto | Younkin, Steven G | Coto, Eliecer | Hamilton-Nelson, Kara L | Gu, Wei | Razquin, Cristina | Pastor, Pau | Mateo, Ignacio | Owen, Michael J | Faber, Kelley M | Jonsson, Palmi V | Combarros, Onofre | O’Donovan, Michael C | Cantwell, Laura B | Soininen, Hilkka | Blacker, Deborah | Mead, Simon | Mosley, Thomas H | Bennett, David A | Harris, Tamara B | Fratiglioni, Laura | Holmes, Clive | de Bruijn, Renee F A G | Passmore, Peter | Montine, Thomas J | Bettens, Karolien | Rotter, Jerome I | Brice, Alexis | Morgan, Kevin | Foroud, Tatiana M | Kukull, Walter A | Hannequin, Didier | Powell, John F | Nalls, Michael A | Ritchie, Karen | Lunetta, Kathryn L | Kauwe, John S K | Boerwinkle, Eric | Riemenschneider, Matthias | Boada, Mercè | Hiltunen, Mikko | Martin, Eden R | Schmidt, Reinhold | Rujescu, Dan | Wang, Li-san | Dartigues, Jean-François | Mayeux, Richard | Tzourio, Christophe | Hofman, Albert | Nöthen, Markus M | Graff, Caroline | Psaty, Bruce M | Jones, Lesley | Haines, Jonathan L | Holmans, Peter A | Lathrop, Mark | Pericak-Vance, Margaret A | Launer, Lenore J | Farrer, Lindsay A | van Duijn, Cornelia M | Van Broeckhoven, Christine | Moskvina, Valentina | Seshadri, Sudha | Williams, Julie | Schellenberg, Gerard D | Amouyel, Philippe
Nature genetics  2013;45(12):1452-1458.
Eleven susceptibility loci for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (LOAD) were identified by previous studies; however, a large portion of the genetic risk for this disease remains unexplained. We conducted a large, two-stage meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in individuals of European ancestry. In stage 1, we used genotyped and imputed data (7,055,881 SNPs) to perform meta-analysis on 4 previously published GWAS data sets consisting of 17,008 Alzheimer’s disease cases and 37,154 controls. In stage 2,11,632 SNPs were genotyped and tested for association in an independent set of 8,572 Alzheimer’s disease cases and 11,312 controls. In addition to the APOE locus (encoding apolipoprotein E), 19 loci reached genome-wide significance (P < 5 × 10−8) in the combined stage 1 and stage 2 analysis, of which 11 are newly associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
PMCID: PMC3896259  PMID: 24162737
7.  Investigation of C9orf72 in 4 Neurodegenerative Disorders 
Archives of neurology  2012;69(12):1583-1590.
To estimate the allele frequency of C9orf72 (G4C2) repeats in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), Alzheimer disease (AD), and Parkinson disease (PD).
The number of repeats was estimated by a 2-step genotyping strategy. For expansion carriers, we sequenced the repeat flanking regions and obtained APOE genotypes and MAPT H1/H2 haplotypes.
Hospitals specializing in neurodegenerative disorders.
We analyzed 520 patients with FTLD, 389 patients with ALS, 424 patients with AD, 289 patients with PD, 602 controls, 18 families, and 29 patients with PD with the LRRK2 G2019S mutation.
Main Outcome Measure
The expansion frequency.
Based on a prior cutoff (>30 repeats), the expansion was detected in 9.3% of patients with ALS, 5.2% of patients with FTLD, and 0.7% of patients with PD but not in controls or patients with AD. It was significantly associated with family history of ALS or FTLD and age at onset of FTLD. Phenotype variation (ALS vs FTLD) was not associated with MAPT, APOE, or variability in the repeat flanking regions. Two patients with PD were carriers of 39 and 32 repeats with questionable pathological significance, since the 39-repeat allele does not segregate with PD. No expansion or intermediate alleles (20–29 repeats) were found among the G2019S carriers and AD cases with TAR DNA-binding protein 43–positive inclusions. Surprisingly, the frequency of the 10-repeat allele was marginally increased in all 4 neurodegenerative diseases compared with controls, indicating the presence of an unknown risk variation in the C9orf72 locus.
The C9orf72 expansion is a common cause of ALS and FTLD, but not of AD or PD. Our study raises concern about a reliable cutoff for the pathological repeat number, which is important in the utility of genetic screening.
PMCID: PMC4005900  PMID: 22964832
8.  Rare Individual Amyloid-β Oligomers Act on Astrocytes to Initiate Neuronal Damage 
Biochemistry  2014;53(15):2442-2453.
Oligomers of the amyloid-β (Aβ) peptide have been implicated in the neurotoxicity associated with Alzheimer’s disease. We have used single-molecule techniques to examine quantitatively the cellular effects of adding well characterized Aβ oligomers to primary hippocampal cells and hence determine the initial pathway of damage. We found that even picomolar concentrations of Aβ (1–40) and Aβ (1–42) oligomers can, within minutes of addition, increase the levels of intracellular calcium in astrocytes but not in neurons, and this effect is saturated at a concentration of about 10 nM of oligomers. Both Aβ (1–40) and Aβ (1–42) oligomers have comparable effects. The rise in intracellular calcium is followed by an increase in the rate of ROS production by NADPH oxidase in both neurons and astrocytes. The increase in ROS production then triggers caspase-3 activation resulting in the inhibition of long-term potentiation. Our quantitative approach also reveals that only a small fraction of the oligomers are damaging and that an individual rare oligomer binding to an astrocyte can initiate the aforementioned cascade of responses, making it unlikely to be due to any specific interaction. Preincubating the Aβ oligomers with an extracellular chaperone, clusterin, sequesters the oligomers in long-lived complexes and inhibits all of the physiological damage, even at a ratio of 100:1, total Aβ to clusterin. To explain how Aβ oligomers are so damaging but that it takes decades to develop Alzheimer’s disease, we suggest a model for disease progression where small amounts of neuronal damage from individual unsequestered oligomers can accumulate over time leading to widespread tissue-level dysfunction.
PMCID: PMC4004235  PMID: 24717093
9.  Evidence of Recessive Alzheimer Disease Loci in a Caribbean Hispanic Data Set 
JAMA neurology  2013;70(10):1261-1267.
The search for novel Alzheimer disease (AD) genes or pathologic mutations within known AD loci is ongoing. The development of array technologies has helped to identify rare recessive mutations among long runs of homozygosity (ROHs), in which both parental alleles are identical. Caribbean Hispanics are known to have an elevated risk for AD and tend to have large families with evidence of inbreeding.
To test the hypothesis that the late-onset AD in a Caribbean Hispanic population might be explained in part by the homozygosity of unknown loci that could harbor recessive AD risk haplotypes or pathologic mutations.
We used genome-wide array data to identify ROHs (>1 megabase) and conducted global burden and locus-specific ROH analyses.
A whole-genome case-control ROH study.
A Caribbean Hispanic data set of 547 unrelated cases (48.8% with familial AD) and 542 controls collected from a population known to have a 3-fold higher risk of AD vs non-Hispanics in the same community. Based on a Structure program analysis, our data set consisted of African Hispanic (207 cases and 192 controls) and European Hispanic (329 cases and 326 controls) participants.
Alzheimer disease risk genes.
We calculated the total and mean lengths of the ROHs per sample. Global burden measurements among autosomal chromosomes were investigated in cases vs controls. Pools of overlapping ROH segments (consensus regions) were identified, and the case to control ratio was calculated for each consensus region. We formulated the tested hypothesis before data collection.
In total, we identified 17 137 autosomal regions with ROHs. The mean length of the ROH per person was significantly greater in cases vs controls (P = .0039), and this association was stronger with familial AD (P = .0005). Among the European Hispanics, a consensus region at the EXOC4 locus was significantly associated with AD even after correction for multiple testing (empirical P value 1 [EMP1], .0001; EMP2, .002; 21 AD cases vs 2 controls). Among the African Hispanic subset, the most significant but nominal association was observed for CTNNA3, a well-known AD gene candidate (EMP1, .002; 10 AD cases vs 0 controls).
Our results show that ROHs could significantly contribute to the etiology of AD. Future studies would require the analysis of larger, relatively inbred data sets that might reveal novel recessive AD genes. The next step is to conduct sequencing of top significant loci in a subset of samples with overlapping ROHs.
PMCID: PMC3991012  PMID: 23978990
10.  Structural Interactions between Inhibitor and Substrate Docking Sites Give Insight into Mechanisms of Human PS1 Complexes 
Structure(London, England:1993)  2014;22(1):125-135.
Presenilin-mediated endoproteolysis of transmembrane proteins plays a key role in physiological signaling and in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer disease and some cancers. Numerous inhibitors have been found via library screens, but their structural mechanisms remain unknown. We used several biophysical techniques to investigate the structure of human presenilin complexes and the effects of peptidomimetic γ-secretase inhibitors. The complexes are bilobed. The head contains nicastrin ectodomain. The membrane-embedded base has a central channel and a lateral cleft, which may represent the initial substrate docking site. Inhibitor binding induces widespread structural changes, including rotation of the head and closure of the lateral cleft. These changes block substrate access to the catalytic pocket and inhibit the enzyme. Intriguingly, peptide substrate docking has reciprocal effects on the inhibitor binding site. Similar reciprocal shifts may underlie the mechanisms of other inhibitors and of the “lateral gate” through which substrates access to the catalytic site.
Graphical Abstract
•The head contains nicastrin ectodomain and overhangs a solute-accessible cavity in base•The base has a central channel and a lateral cleft (putative substrate docking site)•Inhibitors close the cleft and channel and rotate the head, blocking substrate access
Presenilin complexes mediate proteolysis of transmembrane proteins during physiological signaling and disease. Li et al. describe the architecture of human presenilin complex PS1 and inhibitor-induced structural changes. They propose that similar shifts likely underlie substrate access to the catalytic site.
PMCID: PMC3887256  PMID: 24210759
11.  Extracellular Monomeric Tau Protein Is Sufficient to Initiate the Spread of Tau Protein Pathology* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2013;289(2):956-967.
Background: The aggregation and stereotypic spreading of Tau protein is associated with Alzheimer disease.
Results: Monomeric Tau enters neurons and nucleates and engages endogenous Tau to aggregate.
Conclusion: Endocytosis of soluble Tau triggers aggregation in vesicles and is sufficient to initiate the spreading of pathological species.
Significance: Increased levels of extracellular monomeric Tau may increase the risk of developing tauopathies.
Understanding the formation and propagation of aggregates of the Alzheimer disease-associated Tau protein in vivo is vital for the development of therapeutics for this devastating disorder. Using our recently developed live-cell aggregation sensor in neuron-like cells, we demonstrate that different variants of exogenous monomeric Tau, namely full-length Tau (hTau40) and the Tau-derived construct K18 comprising the repeat domain, initially accumulate in endosomal compartments, where they form fibrillar seeds that subsequently induce the aggregation of endogenous Tau. Using superresolution imaging, we confirm that fibrils consisting of endogenous and exogenous Tau are released from cells and demonstrate their potential to spread Tau pathology. Our data indicate a greater pathological risk and potential toxicity than hitherto suspected for extracellular soluble Tau.
PMCID: PMC3887218  PMID: 24235150
Alzheimer Disease; Amyloid; Endocytosis; Protein Aggregation; Tau; Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging Microscopy; Propagation; Superresolution Microscopy
12.  Identification of Alzheimer disease associated variants in genes that regulate retromer function 
Neurobiology of Aging  2012;33(9):2231.e15-2231.e30.
The proteolytic processing of amyloid precursor protein (APP) to generate the neurotoxic Aβ peptide is central to the pathogenesis of Alzheimer disease (AD). The endocytic system mediates the processing of APP by controlling its access to secretases that cleave APP. A key mediator of APP localization is SorL1 – a membrane protein that has been genetically linked to AD. The retromer complex is a conserved protein complex required for endosome-to-Golgi retrieval of a number of physiologically important membrane proteins including SorL1. Based on the prior suggestion that endocytosis and retromer sorting pathways might be involved, we hypothesized that variants in other genes in this pathway might also modulate AD risk. Genetic association of AD with 451 polymorphisms in 15 genes encoding retromer or retromer-associated proteins was tested in a Caucasian sample of 8,309 AD cases and 7,366 cognitively normal elders using individual SNP and gene-based tests. We obtained significant evidence of association with KIAA1033 (Paris p = 0.025), SNX1 (Paris p =0.035), SNX3 (p = 0.0057) and RAB7A (Paris p = 0.018). Ten KIAA1033 SNPs were also significantly associated with AD in a group of African Americans (513 AD cases, 504 controls). Findings with four significant SNX3 SNPs in the discovery sample were replicated in a community-based sample of Israeli-Arabs (124 AD cases, 142 controls). We show that Snx3 and Rab7A proteins interact with the cargo-selective retromer complex through independent mechanisms to regulate the membrane association of retromer and thereby are key mediators of retromer function. These data implicate additional AD risk genes in the retromer pathway and formally demonstrate a direct link between the activity of the retromer complex and the pathogenesis of AD.
PMCID: PMC3391348  PMID: 22673115
13.  Latrepirdine improves cognition and arrests progression of neuropathology in an Alzheimer’s mouse model 
Molecular psychiatry  2012;18(8):889-897.
Latrepirdine (Dimebon™) is a pro-neurogenic, antihistaminic compound that has yielded mixed results in clinical trials of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease, with a dramatically positive outcome in a Russian clinical trial that was unconfirmed in a replication trial in the United States. We sought to determine whether latrepirdine-stimulated APP catabolism is at least partially attributable to regulation of macroautophagy, a highly conserved protein catabolism pathway that is known to be impaired in brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). We utilized several mammalian cellular models to determine whether latrepirdine regulates mTOR- and Atg5-dependent autophagy. Male TgCRND8 mice were chronically administered latrepirdine prior to behavior analysis in the cued and contextual fear conditioning paradigm, as well as immunohistological and biochemical analysis of AD-related neuropathology. Treatment of cultured mammalian cells with latrepirdine led to enhanced mTOR- and Atg5-dependent autophagy. Latrepirdine treatment of TgCRND8 transgenic mice was associated with improved learning behavior and with a reduction in accumulation of Aβ42 and α-synuclein. We conclude that latrepirdine possesses pro-autophagic properties in addition to the previously reported pro-neurogenic properties, both of which are potentially relevant to the treatment and/or prevention of neurodegenerative diseases. We suggest that elucidation of the molecular mechanism(s) underlying latrepirdine effects on neurogenesis, autophagy, and behavior might warranty the further study of latrepirdine as a potentially viable lead compound that might yield more consistent clinical benefit following optimization of its pro-neurogenic, pro-autophagic, and/or pro-cognitive activities.
PMCID: PMC3625697  PMID: 22850627
autophagy; amyloid; Alzheimer’s disease; therapeutics
14.  TREM2 Variants in Alzheimer's Disease 
The New England journal of medicine  2012;368(2):117-127.
Homozygous loss-of-function mutations in TREM2, encoding the triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells 2 protein, have previously been associated with an autosomal recessive form of early-onset dementia.
We used genome, exome, and Sanger sequencing to analyze the genetic variability in TREM2 in a series of 1092 patients with Alzheimer's disease and 1107 controls (the discovery set). We then performed a meta-analysis on imputed data for the TREM2 variant rs75932628 (predicted to cause a R47H substitution) from three genomewide association studies of Alzheimer's disease and tested for the association of the variant with disease. We genotyped the R47H variant in an additional 1887 cases and 4061 controls. We then assayed the expression of TREM2 across different regions of the human brain and identified genes that are differentially expressed in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease and in control mice.
We found significantly more variants in exon 2 of TREM2 in patients with Alzheimer's disease than in controls in the discovery set (P = 0.02). There were 22 variant alleles in 1092 patients with Alzheimer's disease and 5 variant alleles in 1107 controls (P<0.001). The most commonly associated variant, rs75932628 (encoding R47H), showed highly significant association with Alzheimer's disease (P<0.001). Meta-analysis of rs75932628 genotypes imputed from genomewide association studies confirmed this association (P = 0.002), as did direct genotyping of an additional series of 1887 patients with Alzheimer's disease and 4061 controls (P<0.001). Trem2 expression differed between control mice and a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease.
Heterozygous rare variants in TREM2 are associated with a significant increase in the risk of Alzheimer's disease. (Funded by Alzheimer's Research UK and others.)
PMCID: PMC3631573  PMID: 23150934
15.  Correction: SORL1 Is Genetically Associated with Late-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease in Japanese, Koreans and Caucasians 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):10.1371/annotation/fcb56ea7-d32a-4e45-818d-39cef330c731.
PMCID: PMC3738644
16.  Interactome Analyses of Mature γ-Secretase Complexes Reveal Distinct Molecular Environments of Presenilin (PS) Paralogs and Preferential Binding of Signal Peptide Peptidase to PS2* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2013;288(21):15352-15366.
Background: The human genome codes for two presenilin (PS) paralogs, PS1 and PS2.
Results: PS paralogs are embedded in overlapping but distinct molecular environments, with signal peptide peptidase (SPP) primarily binding to PS2.
Conclusion: Study paves the way for understanding functional divergence of PS paralogs.
Significance: Example of an interaction between a Type I- and Type II-directed intramembrane protease.
γ-Secretase plays a pivotal role in the production of neurotoxic amyloid β-peptides (Aβ) in Alzheimer disease (AD) and consists of a heterotetrameric core complex that includes the aspartyl intramembrane protease presenilin (PS). The human genome codes for two presenilin paralogs. To understand the causes for distinct phenotypes of PS paralog-deficient mice and elucidate whether PS mutations associated with early-onset AD affect the molecular environment of mature γ-secretase complexes, quantitative interactome comparisons were undertaken. Brains of mice engineered to express wild-type or mutant PS1, or HEK293 cells stably expressing PS paralogs with N-terminal tandem-affinity purification tags served as biological source materials. The analyses revealed novel interactions of the γ-secretase core complex with a molecular machinery that targets and fuses synaptic vesicles to cellular membranes and with the H+-transporting lysosomal ATPase macrocomplex but uncovered no differences in the interactomes of wild-type and mutant PS1. The catenin/cadherin network was almost exclusively found associated with PS1. Another intramembrane protease, signal peptide peptidase, predominantly co-purified with PS2-containing γ-secretase complexes and was observed to influence Aβ production.
PMCID: PMC3663554  PMID: 23589300
Alzheimers Disease; Mass Spectrometry (MS); Presenilin; Proteomics; Secretases; Transgenic; Interactome
17.  SORL1 Is Genetically Associated with Late-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease in Japanese, Koreans and Caucasians 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e58618.
To discover susceptibility genes of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (LOAD), we conducted a 3-stage genome-wide association study (GWAS) using three populations: Japanese from the Japanese Genetic Consortium for Alzheimer Disease (JGSCAD), Koreans, and Caucasians from the Alzheimer Disease Genetic Consortium (ADGC). In Stage 1, we evaluated data for 5,877,918 genotyped and imputed SNPs in Japanese cases (n = 1,008) and controls (n = 1,016). Genome-wide significance was observed with 12 SNPs in the APOE region. Seven SNPs from other distinct regions with p-values <2×10−5 were genotyped in a second Japanese sample (885 cases, 985 controls), and evidence of association was confirmed for one SORL1 SNP (rs3781834, P = 7.33×10−7 in the combined sample). Subsequent analysis combining results for several SORL1 SNPs in the Japanese, Korean (339 cases, 1,129 controls) and Caucasians (11,840 AD cases, 10,931 controls) revealed genome wide significance with rs11218343 (P = 1.77×10−9) and rs3781834 (P = 1.04×10−8). SNPs in previously established AD loci in Caucasians showed strong evidence of association in Japanese including rs3851179 near PICALM (P = 1.71×10−5) and rs744373 near BIN1 (P = 1.39×10−4). The associated allele for each of these SNPs was the same as in Caucasians. These data demonstrate for the first time genome-wide significance of LOAD with SORL1 and confirm the role of other known loci for LOAD in Japanese. Our study highlights the importance of examining associations in multiple ethnic populations.
PMCID: PMC3614978  PMID: 23565137
18.  Replication of the association between variants in the IDE-KIF11-HHEX harboring region on chromosome 10q and plasma amyloid β levels in Alzheimer’s disease 
Neurobiology of aging  2010;33(1):199.e13-199.e17.
Background and Objective
Genetic linkage and association studies in late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (LOAD) or LOAD endophenotypes have pointed to several candidate regions on chromosome 10q, among these the ~250kb LD block harboring the three genes IDE, KIF11 and HHEX. We explored the association between variants in the genomic region harboring the IDE-KIF11-HHEX complex with plasma Aβ40 and Aβ42 levels in a case-control cohort of Caribbean Hispanics.
First, we performed single marker multivariate linear regression analysis relating the individual SNPs with plasma Aβ40 and Aβ42 levels. Then we performed 3-SNP sliding window haplotype analyses, correcting all analyses for multiple testing
Out of 32 SNPs in this region, three SNPs in IDE (rs2421943, rs12264682, rs11187060) were significantly associated with plasma Aß40 or Aß42 levels in single marker and haplotype analyses after correction for multiple testing. As described above, all these SNPs lie within the same linkage disequilibrium block, and are in linkage disequilibrium with the previously reported haplotypes.
Our findings provide modest support for an association in the IDE harboring region on chromosome 10q with Aβ 40 and 42 levels.
PMCID: PMC3117070  PMID: 20724036
amyloid beta; Alzheimer’s disease; genetics; insulin-degrading enzyme
19.  δ-Catenin Is Genetically and Biologically Associated with Cortical Cataract and Future Alzheimer-Related Structural and Functional Brain Changes 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e43728.
Multiple lines of evidence suggest that specific subtypes of age-related cataract (ARC) and Alzheimer disease (AD) are related etiologically. To identify shared genetic factors for ARC and AD, we estimated co-heritability of quantitative measures of cataract subtypes with AD-related brain MRI traits among 1,249 members of the Framingham Eye Study who had a brain MRI scan approximately ten years after the eye exam. Cortical cataract (CC) was found to be co-heritable with future development of AD and with several MRI traits, especially temporal horn volume (THV, ρ = 0.24, P<10−4). A genome-wide association study using 187,657 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for the bivariate outcome of CC and THV identified genome-wide significant association with CTNND2 SNPs rs17183619, rs13155993 and rs13170756 (P<2.6×10−7). These SNPs were also significantly associated with bivariate outcomes of CC and scores on several highly heritable neuropsychological tests (5.7×10−9≤P<3.7×10−6). Statistical interaction was demonstrated between rs17183619 and APP SNP rs2096488 on CC (P = 0.0015) and CC-THV (P = 0.038). A rare CTNND2 missense mutation (G810R) 249 base pairs from rs17183619 altered δ-catenin localization and increased secreted amyloid-β1–42 in neuronal cell culture. Immunohistopathological analysis of lens tissue obtained from two autopsy-confirmed AD subjects and two non-AD controls revealed elevated expression of δ-catenin in epithelial and cortical regions of lenses from AD subjects compared to controls. Our findings suggest that genetic variation in delta catenin may underlie both cortical lens opacities in mid-life and subsequent MRI and cognitive changes that presage the development of AD.
PMCID: PMC3439481  PMID: 22984439
20.  Therapeutic effects of remediating autophagy failure in a mouse model of Alzheimer disease by enhancing lysosomal proteolysis 
Autophagy  2011;7(7):788-789.
The extensive autophagic-lysosomal pathology in Alzheimer disease (AD) brain has revealed a major defect in the proteolytic clearance of autophagy substrates. Autophagy failure contributes on several levels to AD pathogenesis and has become an important therapeutic target for AD and other neurodegenerative diseases. We recently observed broad therapeutic effects of stimulating autophagic-lysosomal proteolysis in the TgCRND8 mouse model of AD that exhibits defective proteolytic clearance of autophagic substrates, robust intralysosomal amyloid-β peptide (Aβ) accumulation, extracellular β-amyloid deposition and cognitive deficits. By genetically deleting the lysosomal cysteine protease inhibitor, cystatin B (CstB), to selectively restore depressed cathepsin activities, we substantially cleared Aβ, ubiquitinated proteins and other autophagic substrates from autolysosomes/lysosomes and rescued autophagic-lysosomal pathology, as well as reduced total Aβ40/42 levels and extracellular amyloid deposition, highlighting the underappreciated importance of the lysosomal system for Aβ clearance. Most importantly, lysosomal remediation prevented the marked learning and memory deficits in TgCRND8 mice. Our findings underscore the pathogenic significance of autophagic-lysosomal dysfunction in AD and demonstrate the value of reversing this dysfunction as an innovative therapeutic strategy for AD.
PMCID: PMC3359468  PMID: 21464620
autophagy; lysosome; cathepsin; cystatin B; proteolysis; Alzheimer disease; transgenic
21.  Identification of Novel Loci for Alzheimer Disease and Replication of CLU, PICALM, and BIN1 in Caribbean Hispanic Individuals 
Archives of Neurology  2010;68(3):320-328.
To identify novel loci for late-onset Alzheimer disease (LOAD) in Caribbean Hispanic individuals and to replicate the findings in a publicly available data set from the National Institute on Aging Late-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease Family Study.
Nested case-control genome-wide association study.
The Washington Heights–Inwood Columbia Aging Project and the Estudio Familiar de Influencia Genetica de Alzheimer study.
Five hundred forty-nine affected and 544 unaffected individuals of Caribbean Hispanic ancestry.
The Illumina HumanHap 650Y chip for genotyping.
Main Outcome Measure
Clinical diagnosis or pathologically confirmed diagnosis of LOAD.
The strongest support for allelic association was for rs9945493 on 18q23 (P=1.7 × 10−7), but 22 additional single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) had a P value less than 9 × 10−6 under 3 different analyses: unadjusted and stratified by the presence or absence of the APOE ε4 allele. Of these SNPs, 5 SNPs (rs4669573 and rs10197851 on 2p25.1; rs11711889 on 3q25.2; rs1117750 on 7p21.1; and rs7908652 on 10q23.1) were associated with LOAD in an independent cohort from the National Institute on Aging Late-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease Family Study. We also replicated genetic associations for CLU, PICALM, and BIN1.
Our genome-wide search of Caribbean Hispanic individuals identified several novel genetic variants associated with LOAD and replicated these associations in a white cohort. We also replicated associations in CLU, PICALM, and BIN1 in the Caribbean Hispanic cohort.
PMCID: PMC3268783  PMID: 21059989
22.  Both common variations and rare non-synonymous substitutions and small insertion/deletions in CLU are associated with increased Alzheimer risk 
We have followed-up on the recent genome-wide association (GWA) of the clusterin gene (CLU) with increased risk for Alzheimer disease (AD), by performing an unbiased resequencing of all CLU coding exons and regulatory regions in an extended Flanders-Belgian cohort of Caucasian AD patients and control individuals (n = 1930). Moreover, we have replicated genetic findings by targeted resequencing in independent Caucasian cohorts of French (n = 2182) and Canadian (n = 573) origin and by performing meta-analysis combining our data with previous genetic CLU screenings.
In the Flanders-Belgian cohort, we identified significant clustering in exons 5-8 of rare genetic variations leading to non-synonymous substitutions and a 9-bp insertion/deletion affecting the CLU β-chain (p = 0.02). Replicating this observation by targeted resequencing of CLU exons 5-8 in 2 independent Caucasian cohorts of French and Canadian origin identified identical as well as novel non-synonymous substitutions and small insertion/deletions. A meta-analysis, combining the datasets of the 3 cohorts with published CLU sequencing data, confirmed that rare coding variations in the CLU β-chain were significantly enriched in AD patients (ORMH = 1.96 [95% CI = 1.18-3.25]; p = 0.009). Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) association analysis indicated the common AD risk association (GWA SNP rs11136000, p = 0.013) in the 3 combined datasets could not be explained by the presence of the rare coding variations we identified. Further, high-density SNP mapping in the CLU locus mapped the common association signal to a more 5' CLU region.
We identified a new genetic risk association of AD with rare coding CLU variations that is independent of the 5' common association signal identified in the GWA studies. At this stage the role of these coding variations and their likely effect on the β-chain domain and CLU protein functioning remains unclear and requires further studies.
PMCID: PMC3296573  PMID: 22248099
Alzheimer disease; clusterin gene (CLU); genomic resequencing; non-synonymous substitutions; insertions/deletions; β-chain domain; meta-analysis
23.  SORCS1 Alters Amyloid Precursor Protein Processing and Variants May Increase Alzheimer’s Disease Risk 
Annals of neurology  2011;69(1):47-64.
Sorting mechanisms that cause the amyloid precursor protein (APP) and the β-secretases and γ-secretases to colocalize in the same compartment play an important role in the regulation of Aβ production in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). We and others have reported that genetic variants in the Sortilin-related receptor (SORL1) increased the risk of AD, that SORL1 is involved in trafficking of APP, and that under expression of SORL1 leads to overproduction of Aβ. Here we explored the role of one of its homologs, the sortilin-related VPS10 domain containing receptor 1 (SORCS1), in AD.
We analyzed the genetic associations between AD and 16 SORCS1–single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 6 independent data sets (2,809 cases and 3,482 controls). In addition, we compared SorCS1 expression levels of affected and unaffected brain regions in AD and control brains in microarray gene expression and real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) sets, explored the effects of significant SORCS1-SNPs on SorCS1 brain expression levels, and explored the effect of suppression and overexpression of the common SorCS1 isoforms on APP processing and Aβ generation.
Inherited variants in SORCS1 were associated with AD in all datasets (0.001 < p < 0.049). In addition, SorCS1 influenced APP processing. While overexpression of SorCS1 reduced γ-secretase activity and Aβ levels, the suppression of SorCS1 increased γ-secretase processing of APP and the levels of Aβ.
These data suggest that inherited or acquired changes in SORCS1 expression or function may play a role in the pathogenesis of AD.
PMCID: PMC3086759  PMID: 21280075
24.  Reversal of autophagy dysfunction in the TgCRND8 mouse model of Alzheimer's disease ameliorates amyloid pathologies and memory deficits 
Brain  2010;134(1):258-277.
Autophagy, a major degradative pathway for proteins and organelles, is essential for survival of mature neurons. Extensive autophagic-lysosomal pathology in Alzheimer’s disease brain contributes to Alzheimer’s disease pathogenesis, although the underlying mechanisms are not well understood. Here, we identified and characterized marked intraneuronal amyloid-β peptide/amyloid and lysosomal system pathology in the Alzheimer’s disease mouse model TgCRND8 similar to that previously described in Alzheimer’s disease brains. We further establish that the basis for these pathologies involves defective proteolytic clearance of neuronal autophagic substrates including amyloid-β peptide. To establish the pathogenic significance of these abnormalities, we enhanced lysosomal cathepsin activities and rates of autophagic protein turnover in TgCRND8 mice by genetically deleting cystatin B, an endogenous inhibitor of lysosomal cysteine proteases. Cystatin B deletion rescued autophagic-lysosomal pathology, reduced abnormal accumulations of amyloid-β peptide, ubiquitinated proteins and other autophagic substrates within autolysosomes/lysosomes and reduced intraneuronal amyloid-β peptide. The amelioration of lysosomal function in TgCRND8 markedly decreased extracellular amyloid deposition and total brain amyloid-β peptide 40 and 42 levels, and prevented the development of deficits of learning and memory in fear conditioning and olfactory habituation tests. Our findings support the pathogenic significance of autophagic-lysosomal dysfunction in Alzheimer’s disease and indicate the potential value of restoring normal autophagy as an innovative therapeutic strategy for Alzheimer’s disease.
PMCID: PMC3009842  PMID: 21186265
autophagy; lysosome; cystatin B; cathepsin; Alzheimer’s disease
25.  Genome-Wide Survey of Large Rare Copy Number Variants in Alzheimer’s Disease Among Caribbean Hispanics 
G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics  2012;2(1):71-78.
Recently genome-wide association studies have identified significant association between Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and variations in CLU, PICALM, BIN1, CR1, MS4A4/MS4A6E, CD2AP, CD33, EPHA1, and ABCA7. However, the pathogenic variants in these loci have not yet been found. We conducted a genome-wide scan for large copy number variation (CNV) in a dataset of Caribbean Hispanic origin (554 controls and 559 AD cases that were previously investigated in a SNP-based genome-wide association study using Illumina HumanHap 650Y platform). We ran four CNV calling algorithms to obtain high-confidence calls for large CNVs (>100 kb) that were detected by at least two algorithms. Global burden analyses did not reveal significant differences between cases and controls in CNV rate, distribution of deletions or duplications, total or average CNV size; or number of genes affected by CNVs. However, we observed a nominal association between AD and a ∼470 kb duplication on chromosome 15q11.2 (P = 0.037). This duplication, encompassing up to five genes (TUBGCP5, CYFIP1, NIPA2, NIPA1, and WHAMML1) was present in 10 cases (2.6%) and 3 controls (0.8%). The dosage increase of CYFIP1 and NIPA1 genes was further confirmed by quantitative PCR. The current study did not detect CNVs that affect novel AD loci identified by recent genome-wide association studies. However, because the array technology used in our study has limitations in detecting small CNVs, future studies must carefully assess novel AD genes for the presence of disease-related CNVs.
PMCID: PMC3276183  PMID: 22384383
gene; deletion; duplication; Alzheimer’s Disease; copy number variants

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